DVD Review: The Conquest

STUDIO: Music Box | DIRECTOR: Xavier Durringer | CAST: Denis Podalydès, Florence Pernel, Bernard Le Coq, Michele Moretti, Samuel Lebarthe
4/10/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.95
BONUSES: featurette
SPECS: NR | 105 min. | Foreign language biographical drama | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | French with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall


Offering a no-holds-barred, and frankly none too flattering, look at the rise to power of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the biographical drama The Conquest is a far more condemnatory portrait of a sitting head of state than was Oliver Stone’s W. Filmmaker Xavier Durringer will surely be receiving no national arts honors if Sarkozy is re-elected in the presidential election taking place in the next few weeks in France.

The Conquest movie scene

Denis Podalydès (l.) is French president Nicolas Sarkozy in The Conquest.

The film does provide a rather startling view of “Sarko,” depicting him as a ruthlessly ambitious individual with no concern for anyone except himself. He is openly rude to his colleagues, refers to one female campaign strategist as a “dumb bitch,” and gets into a physical altercation with his wife Cecilia (Florence Pernel, Blue) — current spouse Carla Bruni (Midnight in Paris) having entered the picture months after he became president.

The action takes place in the months before Sarkozy’s election, as he manipulates circumstances to his own advantage and openly defies his boss, then-president Jacques Chirac (Bernard Le Coq, The High Life). The script by Durringer and Patrick Rotman is structured as a series of hostile political meetings, framed by the growing discord between Nicolas and Cecilia.

Though the entire cast does an excellent job at incarnating prominent real-life figures, Denis Podalydès (The Da Vinci Code) is the whole show as the man nastily labeled “the midget” by his political enemies. It’s nearly impossible to feel any sympathy for Sarkozy as sketched here, but Podalydès renders with much relish his tenacity and relentless drive for power.


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About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”