Courtesy Kino Lorber

Léa Seydoux gives a rousing performance in this undecipherable treatise on media and celebrity by French writer-director (and unapologetic provocateur) Bruno Dumont, whose films generally evade easy classification. Seydoux stars as France de Meurs, a broadcast journalist fearless in her craft—and just as fearless in her audacity to perform in and even direct already harrowing news stories as if she were staging a dramatic fiction. It’s only after she hits a young man on a scooter with her car that she begins questioning everything about her life in the public eye. There are lots of twists and turns throughout France’s existential crisis, including various mishaps on the job, a retreat in the Alps, an ill-advised romantic affair, and more calamitous tragedies. What might have been a straightforward, if morbid, satire-cum-melodrama had it been directed by anyone else is instead the uncomfortable hodgepodge of disaffection and inanity that’s tinged Dumont’s more recent endeavors (specifically his last two films, about Joan of Arc), consummated by the generally deadpan execution and peculiar choice of music (by French singer-songwriter Christophe, who died in 2020). Wholly uneven, this is nevertheless imposing in parts thanks to Dumont’s impudent sense of humor, though much of it is aimless in its pessimistic send-up of various facets of contemporary culture. Dumont’s signature inscrutability remains intriguing but perhaps more frivolous here; Seydoux’s inspired performance helps to ground it. In French with subtitles. 133 min.

Gene Siskel Film Center