film & game reviews, the retro way.

REVIEW

Presidents
Presidents2

PRESIDENTS

DIRECTOR

Anne Fontaine

WRITER

Anne Fontaine

CAST

Jean Dujardin

Grégory Gadebois

Pascale Arbillot

Doria Tillier

Denis Podalydes

Presidents is a satirical look at a couple of French Presidents who find themselves, post-presidency, interested in joining forces, despite their considerable differences, in order to make a big comeback. The characters of Nicolas and François being obviously based on Nicolas Sarkozy (Jean Dujardin) and François Hollande (Gérard Gadebois) despite the film jokingly telling us it is definitely not about them.

We are led through the story by Nicolas, an often spot-on performance by Dujardin, who narrates the highs and lows of his political stint from his ascension to the presidency, to his defeat against François and then his failure to return as a lead candidate. The considerable legal troubles, which the actual ex-President has been involved with over the past few years, are roughly hinted at but never explored or even a real part of this story, which feels a little strange. Nicolas, desperate to revive his political career, decides to travel to a little town in the French countryside which happens to be where François lives. The latter has basically retired from politics at this point and is (reluctantly?) enjoying a normal day to day routine. Nicolas' ulterior motive soon becomes clear as he attempts to convince François to form a new party together.

If there was going to be a comedy about two French Presidents, it just makes sense that these two would be the chosen subjects as their personalities, and politics, are vastly different which makes from an entertaining contrast. Though, placing the two side by side as equally cartoonish individuals will no doubt alienate some viewers. Ultimately, the film suggests that they have more in common than they realize, namely the thirst for power and the wild ride leading up to it. Presidents could have easily descended into pure farce or taken itself way too seriously. Thankfully, the film finds a good middle line and doesn't cross it either way, making the uneven script a lot more palatable. It also helps that both Jean Dujardin and Grégory Gadebois deliver fantastic performances throughout.

The problem with Presidents is that, while its comedy is solid and it boasts some biting one-liners, it gets bogged down too much with trying to psychoanalyze its subjects, which never feels authentic and gives the film an odd tone. The cast is likable, the film itself has its funny moments but, unless you're really invested in French politics, I can't imagine that this one would be worth it.

An enjoyable, if forgettable, watch.

TheRetroCritic

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film & game reviews, the retro way.