CRITICAL – In his adaptation of Balzac, Xavier Giannoli directs Benjamin Voisin and Vincent Lacoste as ambitious young journalists. A film that honors the writer by modernizing him.
We should never leave Angoulême. Wisdom, alas, is not unique to young people, especially if they plan to be poets. Lucien Chardon, who wrote a collection entitled Daisies, has ambitions. Frequenting Madame de Bargeton’s salon is not enough for him. Getting a particle is already complicated. Making a name for yourself is an almost impossible task.
Lucien de Rubempré, with a not unpleasant physique, seduces the ladies, irritates the gentlemen, cherishes dreams of glory. The province goes five minutes. To both of us Paris, as one of his comrades would proclaim in block letters. In the XIXe century, this city is the kingdom of the businessmen and the combiners. The crook abounds. False values hold the upper hand. Lucien remains confused. This astonishment only has a time. The boy learns quickly. The literature will be patient. In the meantime, there is journalism. It’s a nice job. Under the leadership of Vincent Lacoste, cynical and sassy, the capital suddenly takes on other colors.
What a fabulous basket of crabs. Criticism? Let’s talk about it. The chroniclers are bought. In case of indecision, a marmoset will choose the book to demolish, the one to incense. Praise has its price. Whatever? The press lives in disarray. Champagne is flowing freely in the newsrooms. In the theater, reputations are undone in one evening. In the public, the slap is organized by the torve Jean-François Stévenin, in his last role. Sometimes we whistle, sometimes we applaud. Question of tariff. The temperature may vary during the performance and either we will throw white flowers on stage or we will provoke boos. Honesty, what for? The shareholder hopes for spinoffs. Advertising already reigns, even if it was then called advertising. Rumors are created from scratch. True or false, they circulate. This is what matters. Reputations are destroyed in a nutshell. Codes are sacred. It is not about breaking them. Problem: they change every day. These habits are those of curious insects, the species of which has doubtless not disappeared.
The mask and the feather
At the Palais-Royal, various young ladies monetize their services. Some claim to be actresses. Warning. The simpleton of Rubempré, who has nevertheless renounced many principles, falls in love with an attractive Coralie with red stockings and somewhat vague aspirations. What an idea to push her to play Berenice! Benjamin Voisin wears the frock coat with ease, zigzags through this underworld. He will taste its pleasures, leave some feathers there, and first his own. Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, curious editor-in-chief, will make short work of it.
With Lost illusions, Giannoli honors Balzac. He films his story at a gallop, finds contemporary accents in it, offers himself winks by evoking the mask and the feather, almost seems to regret this time when an article had an immediate impact. Imposture, as we know, is one of his inspirations. The novel serves as a shooting range, a playground. With that, a going, a confidence in the virtues of the cinema which are communicative.
Heads are turning. The ushers tumble down. Depardieu is jubilant as a publisher who has seen others. Jeanne Balibar, snobbish, sinuous, velvety, has versatile moods. Money is good. It also has a smell. It is important to be famous before showing your talent. A wise lesson. Lucien ignored her. This is his drama. He falls from a height. The critic, for his part, hardly dares to speak well of this whirlwind of images, this blaze of destinies. Giannoli will think we were paid for this. If in doubt, please contact the Figaro who will send him our RIB. Balzac not dead.