Barely a month before the first round of the presidential election, Diasteme proposes, with yesterday’s worldto reveal the mysteries of French power through the intimate.
From the first sequence, we discover a President of the French Republic (Léa Drucker) in close-up behind a window soiled by the rain. His gaze is lost on the horizon. Filmmaker Diasteme sets the tone for his “world of yesterday”: This political film aims to get as close as possible to the women and men who rule us. Isolated in his palace, the head of state will, above all, be in contact with his prime minister (Benjamin Biolay), his secretary general (Denis Podalydès) and his bodyguard (Alban Lenoir). A few days before the first round, and when she does not line up again, she is told that the only figure capable of beating the far right has just been thrown into a corruption scandal. The Secretary-General then advises Mrs President to physically eliminate the extremist candidate before disqualifying his competitor.
The soul of the elect
If the pitch is similar to a political thriller in Hollywood, yesterday’s world prefers, like his foreground, to focus on the moral and ethical twists and turns of those in power. The film likes to show that politics is first and foremost a story of human relations. As such, we will particularly remember the beautiful and complex connection between the President and her Secretary General, a platonic couple and a tactical duo who worked together to reach the top of the state pyramid. But this orientation of the deep sensitivity of the political figures is also the weakness of the film. In fact, the scenario sometimes slips on useless branches, such as the role of the president’s daughter – which only serves to support the head of state’s personal dilemmas in an awkward way. However, the young actress Luna Lou is not responsible for this, as she is desperately trying to bring this character to life, with dubious script justification.
Diasteme focuses on the isolation of its protagonists in the Élysée. Psychological isolation, but also physical, as the majority of the story is concentrated between the four walls of the presidential palace and its gilding. The President’s rare excursions are always in unrecognizable and impersonal surroundings on the occasion of covert official visits. The very fashionable postulate about supernatural politics in our democratic reality is thus extremely well portrayed throughout the film. The masters do not mix with the people: from the walls of the Elysée to their personal apartments passing through official cars, they are alone. The loss of contact with the real community isolates the main characters and even makes them physically ill. The notion of an aging and separated class is thus strongly felt; as much as in yesterday’s worldthe French people are systematically erased from the framework.
As the far-right candidate prepares to win the next election, the feature film raises serious questions: Should we deviate from the rule of law to prevent the indescribable from happening, or should he respect, no matter what happens, the democratic game? And if yesterday’s world manages to warn about the radicalization of governments in Europe and the world, he unfortunately never dwells on investigating the causes. Like these powerful characters, the film seems to be based on the premise that people turn to the far right through viral contamination. But if we approve of the description of a dying political class and unable to analyze the reasons for the success of the far right, we regret that the film never gives the keys to it, not even in the subtitle. . It would indeed have been appropriate to demonstrate that yesterday’s world unfortunately remains the same today, precisely because of those in power. yesterday’s world could have taken on a sour tackle of the inability of the political classes to question themselves, but eventually causes them to pass for characters, certainly dull but kindly animated by unsurpassed moral principles. Shame!
yesterday’s world, by Diasteme, with Léa Drucker, Denis Podalydès, Alban Lenoir. 1h29. In the cinema March 30, 2022.