Actors: Thierry Lhermitte, Niels Arestrup, Bruno Raffaelli, Raphael Personnaz
Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Number of discs: 1
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: July 29, 2014
Run Time: 114 minutes
Based on the award-winning graphic novel by former government speech writer Abel Lanzac, The French Minister is The Devil Wears Prada of political films. The narrative is far more concerned with the comedic nightmare of working for an egomaniacal public personality than the actual politics that it is all endured to accomplish. It is about the job, rather than being about the cause, which allows it the relatable qualities of narrative that made past horror boss films successful as well.
The politics that are in the film resemble more “The Thick of It,” than “The West Wing,” using a fictional job position of Minister of Foreign Affairs for the creation of the film’s horrible boss. This position is held by Alexandre Taillard de Vorms (Thierry Lhermitte), whose whirlwind ego and larger-than-life personality are the focus of much of the narrative in The French Minister. The minister is the focus, but our protagonist is his frequently abused speech writer, Arthur Vlaminck (Raphaël Personnaz).
Arthur is the straight man entering the bizarre world of politics, filled with an assortment of unique individuals. The minister battles the Americans, the Russians and the Chinese over various issues, but Arthur merely appears to be battling with the minister. Pettiness and egotistical quirks make doing a complicated job even more difficult, from the flurry of papers that scatter every time the minister bursts into a room to his tendency to throw books of interest at his speechwriters rather than handing them.
In his scene-stealing performance, Lhermitte always has the appearance of someone teetering between savant and A.D.H.D., though this certainly adds energy to the quick-witted dialogue that is undeniably engaging. The only problem with all of this energy and excitement is that it never seems to lead anywhere. The plot has no real arch beyond Arthur’s ability to adapt to his situation, and the film drifts aimlessly because of this.
The DVD extras include a making-of featurette and a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 5/10