The Last Mitterand review

Director Robert Guédiguian takes a sabbatical from his Marseilles-set dramas (Where The Heart Is etc) to offer up this shrewd portrait of the late French President Francois Mitterand (Michel Bouquet). Focusing on the final year of the socialist politician's life, it's narrated by a young left-wing journalist (Jalil Lespert) who's been hired to write Mitterand's memoirs. But will the dying man tell the truth about his role in the pro-Nazi Vichy government? Or blab about his friendship with its war criminal police chief, who deported French Jews to the concentration camps? Shot without frills, the dialogue-heavy Mitterand does assume a certain knowledge of 20th century French politics and the man himself emerges as a man of fascinating contrasts- a wily political schemer. Bouquet is superb, giving soul to a man who, though acutely sensitive to criticisms of his conduct, doesn't doubt history will judge him as the "last of the great presidents".

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