The French Minister Screen 7 articles

The French Minister

2013

The French Minister Poster
  • The dialogue is too pointed to be hilarious—the graphic novel’s author, Antonin Baudry (who also co-wrote the screenplay) worked for former real-life Minister Of Foreign Affairs Dominique de Villepin, and his story is a lightly fictionalized account of his actual experiences. Consequently, The French Minister [isn't] as uproarious as something like In The Loop... It’s just a whole lot of political blather that never ignites into comedy or drama.

  • It’s pleasant, and at times very funny, but the meandering episodes mean that despite the long running time, the satire never builds to a payoff. The conclusion feels too good-natured after nearly two hours of a minister who would need typed instructions to butter a baguette.

  • The script is wickedly smart, strewn with gems, but poorly served by a miscast, overly goofy Thierry Lhermitte as the lead (the supporting roles on the other hand are pitch-perfect, especially Niels Arestrup as the chief of staff). As a result, the tone oscillates uncomfortably between brainy satire and heavy farce, weakening the film’s sharpness of insight.

  • Mr. Tavernier’s filmmaking here is loose, almost casual, and you may not always notice what he’s doing with the camera as he frames the ministry’s choreographed chaos with its whirling people and parts.

  • With its broad performances, rapid-fire pacing, and rampant visual and verbal gags, The French Minister, Bernard Tavernier's first attempt at an out-and-out comedy, doesn't try too hard to hide its graphic-novel origins; it's political burlesque through and through... Tavernier manages to inject within the showily comic surfaces of the film a measure of genuine wit and curiosity about the story's particular milieu that elevates it above most other satires of this stripe.

  • Quai d’Orsay, so named after a Paris street home to several government ministries, isn’t on the scale of Tavernier’s The Princess of Montpensier (10), a masterly and bafflingly underrated work set in 16th-century France, but it hums along with a dynamic force all its own.

  • A government office that functions much like “The Office” is the setting of “Quai d’Orsay,” a sparkling and savvy comedy of political manners from the unlikely hand of veteran French auteur Bertrand Tavernier.

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