REVIEW: Goliath: Dirty tactics, word play, and misinformation abound

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Goliath, directed by Frédéric Tellier, made its world premiere in Sydney at the Alliance Française French Film Festival, even before it was released in French cinemas a week or so later, on 9 March 2022.

Goliath

Inspired by, but not strictly based on, a true story, Goliath is a film about residents of a rural town fighting a mega agricultural manufacturer of a pesticide they believe is responsible for cancers and deaths among their own. Enter Patrick (Giles Lellouche, also showing in Farewell, Mr. Haffmann at AFFFF 2022), a lawyer fighting to prove not only the link but that the company knows their product is carcinogenic. It’s an uphill battle as lobbyists, such as Matthias (Pierre Niney, also in OSS 117: From Africa with Love in this year’s AFFFF and Black Box from AFFFF 2021), engage in dirty tactics, cleverly worded speeches and campaigns of misinformation. Director Frédéric Tellier has worked with Pierre Niney before on previous AFFFF film Through the Fire (Sauver ou Périr).

 

A desperate and drastic act by one of the group drives France (Emmanuelle Bercot, Happy Birthday, AFFFF20), a sports teacher by day and factory worker by night, to take action. She’s personally affected as she sees her partner Zef’s lymphoma return and points to pesticide Tetrazine as the cause.

 

Bubbling along in the background is agricultural company PhytoSanis’ concern that its licence to sell its product won’t be renewed in the coming months. Lobbyists engage heavily in misinformation campaigns – this product is far less dangerous than the lollies you give your child and yet they’re not banned – and schmoozing important officials in their attempt to get the vote across the line.

Goliath is not a courtroom David and Goliath drama but a personal one. The battle takes place in the village where France lives and also for Patrick, trying to find someone willing to speak or information to prove that the product is carcinogenic finds himself increasingly under threat by a company that is determined to keep its product on the market.

 

Images of France’s family dealing with the fallout of the pesticide are juxtaposed with images of lobbyist Patrick’s happy family. His heavily pregnant partner stands holding her belly as he talks to her about the difficulties and increasing pressure he is experiencing at work in the lead-up to the European Commission vote to renew or disapprove a new licence to the agricultural company.

 

Both male leads in Goliath were nominated for best actor at the César Awards and deservingly so. Pierre Niney played lobbyist Matthias so well that I despised him from very early on. Giles Lellouche for his role as Patrick, the criminal lawyer turned environmental lawyer. Unfortunately, neither Niney nor Lellouche won the César for Best Actor. Ultimately, it went to Benoît Magimel for Peaceful (another film showing at the AFFFF 2022).

Goliath

While not nominated for a César for Goliath, Emmanuelle Bercot also deserves mention as the desperate France, willing to do anything to see the company made responsible.

 

Goliath is a well-written and superbly acted film which sheds light on the unethical, dirty tactics of lobbyists while at the same time highlighting the strength and determination of others.

4 CROISSANTS

Matilda Marseillaise was given access to a digital screener of this film for this review.

 

Find out when Goliath is showing in your city, via this link

 

READ OUR REVIEWS OF OTHER FILMS AT THE ALLIANCE FRANCAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL

REVIEW: Fly Me Away – a predictable feel-good film

REVIEW: OSS 117: From Africa with Love – Jean Dujardin and Pierre Niney on screen together is a delight

REVIEW: The Braves: a film about the strength of friendship

REVIEW: Paul W.R’s Last Journey: an apocalyptic, vibrant sci-fi fantasy

Love Songs for Tough Guys: a comedy about ageing gang members getting in touch with their softer sides

A Tale of Love and Desire: an exploration of religious and gender expectations in Paris

 

KEY INFO FOR ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2022

WHAT: Alliance Française French Film Festival

WHERE AND WHEN:

  • Adelaide: 24thMarch to 24th April (Encore screenings: 25th to 26th April)
  • Brisbane: 16thMarch to 13th April (Encore screenings: 14th to 18th April)
  • Byron Bay: 30thMarch to 14th April (Encore screenings: 15th to 16th April)
  • Hobart: 9thto 20th March
  • Canberra: 2nd March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Melbourne: 3rd March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Parramatta: 7thto 10th April
  • Perth: 9th March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Sydney: 1stMarch to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)

HOW: Discover the AFFFF 2022 programme here.

 

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REVIEW: Paul W.R’s Last Journey: an apocalyptic, vibrant sci-fi fantasy

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Paul W.R.’s Last Journey (Le Dernier Voyage de Paul W.R) is a French Science Fiction film written and directed by Romain Quirot. It’s based on a short from Romain Quirot called “Le dernier voyage de l’énigmatique Paul WR“. While it follows the short considerably, there are some differences and I would very much recommend watching the short after the feature.

Paul W.R.'s Last Journey

Set in France in 2050, after the Earth has been ravaged and left desolate by humanity and a mysterious red moon had appeared in the sky. Inevitably humanity has sought to claim its bounties in order to keep the remnants of humanity going. After assumedly a decade or so of being pillaged, the red moon put out an impenetrable magnetic field and changed its course for a direct impact into Earth. The film takes place in the final week of this doomsday clock.

 

The film follows Paul W.R (played by Hugo Becker), the man who is heralded as the saviour of Earth, the only person who can defeat the red moon, who goes missing on the launch day of the one-way mission to destroy the red moon. He grapples with the challenges with accepting a fate or destiny that has been thrust upon him, forced onto him by his father Henri W.R (played by Jean Reno); his relationship with his brother Eliott W.R (played by Paul Hamy) and a young girl he meets along the way (excellently played by Lya Oussadit-Lessert).

 

While this may all sound like an American sci-fi blockbuster, the film is, in my opinion, definitely not and has a lot of aspects I have come to expect from French film.

Paul W.R.'s Last Journey

Paul W.R.’s Last Journey is visually striking and distinct, borrowing from retro-future styles of the 60’s blended with some 80’s/90’s and all wrapped in a distinctly neo-future dystopian style. Visually, I found it a real treat, the bleak environment contrasted with neon and holograms, curvy retro-future hover cars in an almost Arizonan/Texan road trip setting (diners in the middle of nowhere included). I think the cinematography and lighting direction was really nicely done, the action and bleakness are broken up with dream-like camera angles which blend to-and-fro with black and white Paul’s flashbacks, which provide some nice context and information about the current world, himself and the situation he finds himself in.

 

When it comes to the music/score, this is a real mixed bag for me, one of the first things to keep in mind upon hearing the synthwave music at the start of the film, is that this is not a Blade Runner film. After this first song, other than some of the technology in the film, this is not cyberpunk. The music seems to sporadically flip between wildly different genres which I felt provided a real disconnect between what I was seeing and hearing. That being said, it’s possible this was the intention of the Director.

 

I have seen very mixed reviews about the film and I think this is due to both American and French expectations and the way the film is presented or mis-interpreted. If you are wanting to watch an action-packed sci-fi romp, this is not it. If you are wanting a film that explains everything that is going on and why, this is not it. If you like there to be an ending that fixes plot holes and has the typical Hollywood joy and tears and everyone is happy forever, this is I feel, most likely not for you.

 

My experience and thoughts about Le Dernier Voyage de Paul W.R is that it’s visually inviting, with good to great acting. While there is some action, and at times the film takes itself quite seriously, it is peppered with humour, both dark and light which is appreciated and well balanced. It is filled with fantastic mysteries, something I love in sci-fi, the unknown, and it throws questions at you. However, it does not always give you the answers to these questions and some people might have trouble with that.

Le dernier voyage de Paul W.R./ Paul W.R.'s Last Journey

It felt to me as though I was a silent witness to someone else’s dream, an alternate universe that has different fundamental laws than ours. I highly suggest that’s how to watch this film, ignore the normal red flags of “this doesn’t make sense” or “that wouldn’t happen in real life” and accept the ride.

 

Additionally, having discovered it was based on a short, I watched the short after the feature and it helped answer some of my questions, at least subjectively. I would highly recommend doing the same.

 

Overall, Paul W.R.’s Last Journey is a mysterious voyage through an alternate sci-fi earth, visually striking and well-acted. But with a structure that some might not expect and left me with, in my opinion a few too many questions un-answered.

 

***However, with the amount of absolutely awful sci-fi that is produced, if you’re looking for something completely different, it’s highly recommended by Bruce.***

 

3.5 CROISSANTS

KEY INFO FOR ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2022

WHAT: Alliance Française French Film Festival

WHERE AND WHEN:

  • Adelaide: 24thMarch to 24th April (Encore screenings: 25th to 26th April)
  • Brisbane: 16thMarch to 13th April (Encore screenings: 14th to 18th April)
  • Byron Bay: 30thMarch to 14th April (Encore screenings: 15th to 16th April)
  • Hobart: 9thto 20th March
  • Canberra: 2nd March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Melbourne: 3rd March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Parramatta: 7thto 10th April
  • Perth: 9th March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Sydney: 1stMarch to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)

HOW: Discover the AFFFF 2022 programme here.

 

Read our other content about AFFFF 2022:

Films from AFFFF 2022 in competition at the Césars and which ones won

Sneak peek at the first 10 films of the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2022

Love Songs for Tough Guys: a comedy about ageing gang members getting in touch with their softer sides

Love Songs for Tough Guys: a comedy about ageing gang members getting in touch with their softer sides

 

Watch more French films at home

AFFFF 2021 films on streaming

 

Which AFFFF 2022 films are you planning to see? Are you going to see Paul W.R.’s Last Journey?

 

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