Lost Illusions (Illusions perdue)

Lost Illusions (Illusions perdue)
Running time:141 minutes
Director:Xavier Giannoli
Release date:Not communicated
Lucien is a young unknown poet in 19th century France. He has great expectations and wants to forge a destiny for himself. He leaves the family printing shop in his native province to try his luck in Paris, on the arm of his protector. Soon left to his own devices in the fabulous city, the young man will discover the backstage of a world dedicated to the law of profit and pretense. A human comedy where everything is bought and sold, literature as well as the press, politics as well as feelings, reputations as well as souls. He will love, he will suffer, and survive his illusions.

Mulder's Review

French auteur cinema has never ceased to chart its course without necessarily worrying about pleasing a large audience or surfing on an ephemeral and often meaningless trend. Director and co-writer Xavier Giannoli has taken up the challenge of revisiting Honoré de Balzac's novel of the same name, Lost Illusions, while at the same time dusting off this novel published in three parts between 1837 and 1843 (The Two Poets, A Great Provincial Man in Paris and The Sufferings of an Inventor). 

 The screenplay by Xavier Giannoli and Jacques Fieschi focuses solely on the second part, the dramatic story of Lucien Chardon (Benjamin Voisin), a young poet living in Angoulême, a small town in southwestern France, and working in a printing shop, but inspired to become a well-known writer. Taken under the protection of the aristocratic Madame Louise (Cécile de France) who becomes his mistress, he tries to make a name for himself at literary salons. When the old husband of Madame Louise (Cécile de France) learns that he is having an affair with his wife, she and Julien decide to flee to Paris. However, their romance in Paris will prove impossible as this city is governed by social rules, clans and especially the fact that social classes cannot mix. Rejected by Louise, Lucien will try to survive and will try to get out of his social caste by making a real name and recognition. 

By taking the name of his mother to write (de Rubempré), a poor aristocrat but whose name could open the private circles of the upper class. Lucien will be able, thanks to the help of the editor Etienne Lousteau (Vincent Lacoste), to integrate a liberal gazette and above all to meet a powerful publisher in Paris, Dauriat (Gérard Depardieu), but also an actress with whom he will fall madly in love, Coralie (Salomé Dewaels, the film's revelation). Lucien will discover the workings of the press and the fact that it is corruptible. Most of the journalists are paid to write good and bad reviews and thus reign in the theater world. Lucien soon learns that the desire to be known and to live lavishly has a significant backlash. His lost illusions will reflect the failings of a society in which appearances are deceptive and everything revolves around money and imposing one's power over many people.

While French cinema currently prefers to set the action in our time, it is always exciting to discover ambitious films but also perfectly mastered so every little detail is particularly careful that it is the costumes, the main plot but also a fascinating analysis of the press still in its infancy and before real empires come to life and change forever the relentless workings of an imposing system making the news continuously the nerve of a society hungry for news and scoops. Impossible while discovering this film not to think of the blogs which are more and more numerous and often influenced and influenced, to see of media ready to all to obtain a scoop and to make go up the ratings and not hesitating to cross certain prohibitions to gain in power and in fame. 

Lost Illusions is an excellent film as it succeeds in recreating a great period film in the tradition of Barry Lyndon (1975) by Stanley Kubrick. By describing a Paris in which the aristocracy seems to be running the show and the press imposes on many writers or theater artists an important fear that can break their career or make them stars by writing reviews. It is also interesting to see in this film the fact that a theatrical success can be bought by the use of theater drivers ready to make a room applaud with a dedicated team or whistle at will. The screenplay by Xavier Giannoli, Jacques Fieschi shows that the novel by Honoré de Balzac has succeeded in showing the beginnings of what will become our current society with its share of media influences on our current choices whether it is the cinema, the series but also other areas. The film benefits not only from an excellent reconstitution of a past era but also from an inspired direction and a sumptuous cast in which we find Benjamin Voisin, Xavier Dolan, Vincent Lacoste, Cécile de France, Gérard Depardieu and Jeanne Balibar.

Lost Illusions
Directed by Xavier Giannoli
Written by Xavier Giannoli, Jacques Fieschi
Based on Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac
Produced by Oliver Delbosc, Sidonie Dumas
Starring Benjamin Voisin, Xavier Dolan, Vincent Lacoste, Cécile de France, Gérard Depardieu, Jeanne Balibar
Cinematography : Christophe Beaucarne
Edited by Riwanon Le Beller, Cyril Nakache
Production companies : Curiosa Films, Umedia, UFund, France 3 Cinema, Canal+, Ciné+, Gaumont
Distributed by Gaumont (France)
Release date : 5 September 2021 (Venice), 20 October 2021 (France)
Running time : 141 minutes

Seen on October 1, 2021 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 10 seat A18
Reviewed on October 19, 2021 at Gaumont Opera Capucines, Room 1 seat N6

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