The elected official, the normalienne and the field of possibilities

Alice and the Mayor

Wednesday April 27, at 8:55 p.m. on Arte

Socialist mayor of Lyon, figure of the left and possible contender for the presidential election, Paul Théraneau (Fabrice Luchini) is wrung out by thirty years of active politics. By dint of making decisions all day long, signing stacks of signatures and presiding over memorial ceremonies, he can no longer think. Yet it was his job to have ideas, he, the publicist converted to politics by “calling”. He therefore calls on a normalienne to engage with her in one of those informal conversations capable of restarting his neurons. I prefer to use the philosophical tradition rather than a coach,” he explains to her.

Alice Heimann (Anaïs Demoustier) is young, brilliant, has extended her studies because she doesn’t really know what to do in life and knows nothing about politics. But she knows how to think and identify the challenges of the contemporary world, even if it means being a little theoretical. She will be his spur. From this confrontation between two personalities that everything opposes, apart from a common loneliness, is born a singular dialogue on politics today and what it becomes when it resigns itself to impotence. It’s funny, subtle, intelligent without ever being overwhelming.

The director, Nicolas Pariser, is not afraid of these great dialogue scenes drawn from the source of Éric Rohmer’s films. If they constitute the heart of the film, they integrate with fluidity into a fantastically led and interpreted story of the daily life of a municipal team. With his ballet of advisers, his incessant comings and goings, his endless meetings and his obsession with communication that give the film its dynamics. Without ever lapsing into caricature or contempt for his character as a tired old lion who hopes one last time to change things, Nicolas Pariser delivers a fascinating reflection on the confrontation between thought and action, ideal and reality, and the crisis of democracy today.


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