Nicolas Pariser delivers a very clever and quirky political comedy, with brilliant performances from Fabrice Luchini and Anaïs Demoustier.
“I would have loved my fellow men in spite of themselves”. This Jean-Jacques Rousseau quote taken from Reveries of a Solitary Walker and appearing in Nicolas Pariser’s Alice and the Mayor – his latest film unveiled at the 51st Directors’ Fortnight of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival – pretty much sums up the inclination of this French filmmaker, who is once again tapping into the real world of politics following on from his highly acclaimed first opus, The Great Game (discovered in Locarno in 2015 and winner of the Louis-Delluc Award for Best First Film).
Weaving a highly detailed and fascinating exploration of a subject of public interest which is, on paper, very difficult to transpose to film, and which was made even harder by the director’s determination not to weigh the plot down with dramatic narrative twists, Nicolas Pariser manages to convey the different faces of a democratic crisis, without imposing oversimplified notions of right and wrong. A film of many words (which will no doubt put a dampener on the enthusiasm of action fans), the story unfurls smoothly, and not without humour, thanks to the depth of the dialogue which the two protagonists deliver with aplomb.
The film is a great example of the universally useful thinking space that cinema can provide under cover of a sensitively handled and intelligent comedy.
Fabien Lemerceri, Cineuropa.org