France (2021) - Bruno Dumont
The power and intrinsic artificiality of the image, how it seduces and re-arranges reality through the complex edifice of media. Interconnectivity of the transnational world in which the ruling class, whether capitalists, politicians, or journalists, sculpt and re-arrange the narrative related to empathy and progress in order to continuously maintain power and control, protecting the status quo. Those who view Dumont's France as nothing but an overt satirical critique of the media need to take a closer look, as what Dumont has truly crafted is an acute study of modernity in which the manufactured image is just another deception brought by the euphoric promises of technocrats, who often promise better efficiency but never recognize the externalities on display. In the case of media, progress was promised or assumed to come in form of further perspective and detailed insight but instead, it has re-arranged the masses' perception of each other and oneself. Media in the modern age has reset the perimeters of acceptability and become a tool itself for control. Media has turned insidious, pushing us further away from a sense of commonality, mutualism, and empathy through its manufacturing of binary notions of complexity that ultimately obfuscate our ability to live and experience instead of constantly seeking validation and accreditation for a job well done, whether via tribalism or professional attainment. Léa Seydoux is magnificent in this role, encapsulating the grand cognitive dissonance involved with this character who exploits the masses and 'the other; while straining and struggling to find something more real, more genuine in her own personal existence. She is an entitled character that somehow feels empathetic due to her inability to even recognize how manufactured her whole world is. The camera's gaze seemingly gravitates towards the elemental even in a film largely made up of manufactured landscapes and what I think Dumont is really expressing is how for the western world empathy is largely an illusion, a performative gesture. "My job is my job" Seydoux expounds, and I think no line better sums up this film. We all have a job to do, a profession to maintain, and while Seydoux's role may be more explicitly manufactured than most, from a macro perspective Dumont suggests that such crude self-serving utilitarianism blinds us all from just how far we've fallen from a simpler means of understanding and commonality between our fellow man.
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