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.
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).
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.
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
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.