French film review: Baron Noir – AFFFF’16

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For our French film review this week, Jordy Finch reviews the first two episodes of political thriller series ‘Baron Noir’, which are being featured as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival currently running in Australia.

Baron Noiris a French political thriller series starring Kad Merad and Niels Arestrup as two backstabbing friends embroiled in the world of politics. The show provides a fast paced insight into the dirtier side of politics, where people act all in the name of revenge and, ultimately, success.

The darker side of French politics

From the beginning, viewers are swept into the darker side of the French primary elections as Rickwaert (Merad), the socialist mayor, attempts to clean his hands and protect Presidential candidate, Francis (Arestrup) from involvement in a large-scale housing fraud.

From chasing money, to racing cars and meeting in the dead of the night, viewers are not given much time to wrap their heads around the complex underground operations and deadly sabotage methods of French political campaigns.

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Sabotage brings the laughs

However, while the serious thriller doesn’t leave too much time for humour, the grassroots sabotage tactics of the political parties leave the audience smiling and laughing as leaflets are artfully removed from letterboxes commando style.

Yet these brief interludes are truncated in a vastly fast paced series of events.
– Merad’s battles with friendship and loyalty,
– his parenting of his overly understanding daughter and
– his constant frustration, as he risks everything to be elected,
all provide insights to his layered character.

A question of morality

This ongoing series offers an insight into the nitty-gritty side of political campaigning, without shedding a favourable light on the shadier side of the glossy façade.

Francis (Arestrup), firstly candidate and later elected President, appears tough and bloodthirsty, but so too does Richweart (Merad) and the other leaders.

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Viewers are left questioning the morality and choices involved in the game of politics as the show ends with the culmination of all the hard work and the various double-edged successes. The audience is left to consider their own take on the ethics of politics, as the choices of the politicians are framed to show the enormous risks involved in the pursuit of success.

‘Baron Noir’ is a political thriller to its deepest core, with brief interludes of humour to lighten the otherwise fast-paced environment of political intrigue. Constantly left on the edge of your seat, ‘Baron Noir’ delivers the unexpected, leaving you engrossed in the complex and dynamic game of French politics.

Baron Noir’ is being featured throughout the Alliance Française French Film festival until 24 March, see the full schedule here.

Have you seen ‘Baron Noir’? Share you thoughts on this French film review in the comments below

For further French film review coverage of the AFFFF16…
La Belle Saison’ // Taj Mahal

Proud partner of the Alliance Française de Melbourne.
Image credits:
1 + 2. courtesy of
Alliance Française French Film Festival
3.  via ouest france

About the Contributor

Jordy Finch

I am a Melbourne based Arts and Law student, with a long time love of french culture and everything surrounding la vie française. I've recently returned from living the french dream studying in Lyon, and travelling the many corners of Europe. I love writing, reading, photography and all things art related.

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