Films: The Conquest

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The Conquest  {La conquête}

The Conquest
La conquête

France, 2011, 105 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Biographical, Drama, French/French Canadian, Political
Programs: Argonaut Wine & Film Series, Contemporary World Cinema
Language: French English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Xavier Durringer
Producer: Eric Altmeyer, Nicolas Altmeyer
Editor: Catherine Schwartz
Screenwriter: Xavier Durringer, Patrick Rotman
Cinematographer: Gilles Porte
Principal Cast: Denis Podalydès, Florence Pernel, Bernard Le Coq, Michèle Moretti

MUST END Thurs, Feb 2 at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax
35mm Presentation - A disclaimer at the beginning of The Conquest declares it a “fictional film based on the lives of real people.” Nevertheless, it covers the facts surrounding French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s dramatic rise to power—his service under Jacques Chirac, his rivalry with Dominique de Villepin, and his subsequent election (against all odds) to highest office in 2007—amid personal turmoil: his wife, Cécilia, started off as his biggest supporter and advisor but left him for another man just as he was being sworn into office.

French director Xavier Durringer’s political drama is the story of Sarkozy’s relentless drive, his shameless courting of the media in the name of “transparency,” and, finally, his punishing personal loss, even in the midst of career victory. But at heart, The Conquest is about ambition itself and the behind-the-scenes schemes of calculating politicos. It’s also a story about the price of power and the loss that goes with its gain. More than a character study of a world leader, it teaches us the that one can have it all—just not all at once.

Historian-screenwriter Patrick Rotman collected anecdotes from media interviews and key witnesses about Sarkozy to ensure accuracy. And although the actors playing Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin bear striking resemblance to the characters they play, Denis Podalydès, as Sarkozy, is so convincing despite physical differences that he’s left many audiences agog. Podalydès donned a wig and studied countless hours of footage for the role—adpating Sarkozy’s tics, mannerisms, and speech patterns so accurately that he is a dead ringer for the president nicknamed the Energizer Bunny.

Amid the media buzz when it debuted at Cannes, Sarkozy himself declined to see the film, stating, “Too much narcissism makes you crazy.”

Sponsored by The Consulate General of Canada in Denver, LA Film & TV Office–French Embassy, Quèbec Government Office in Los Angeles

(Unsubtitled trailer)

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