Set in France, The Conquest could have easily been translated to a spoof on the government of the United States. Good acting by Denis Podalydes keeps the story realistic and direction by Xavier Durringer shows he has his finger on the political pulse. If you like a witty take on ‘getting to the top of the food chain,’ then go see The Conquest.
Always bucking his boss President Jacques Chirac (Bernard Le Coq), Nicolas Sarkozy (Denis Podalydes) has his own way of getting elected, telling what the country wants to hear. But, Chirac wants to get re-elected, so he keeps Sarkozy at bay as one of his cabinet members. Sarkozy takes a try at Prime Minister and gets defeated by his arch nemeses Dominique de Villepin (Samuel Labarthe). Never down on a loss he predicts that in 5 years he will be President. Chirac gets offended with his statement and a rivalry begins. But, Sarkozy has a lot up his sleeve, as long as his wife doesn’t do him in first.
The movie moves along fast with the opening showing Sarkozy at the last few days before his election for President. Flashing back we get all the gory details on his fight to the top. Podalydes pulls out a very good performance as the man who wants it all. His mannerisms, demeanor and oratory prowess shows his ability to look like a politician, at least some of the American ones of late. I like the way he shapes his character, uses his support actors and keeps the tempo of the not to be denied candidate.
The timing for the film to be shown in the United States is good and if he can gather an audience, Durringer’s film should have strength among the political science fanatics, gung ho candidate supporters and ardent political party members. Beyond that, audiences for the film dwindle fast because French whit doesn’t translate as easily here as abroad.
The Conquest has not be rated by the MPAA but does contain some language. The film is shown in the French language with English subtitles. My one comment on this: The French people talk very fast, so the subtitles fly by at a very quick pace.