Lust For Power Claude Chabrol

Lust For Power Claude Chabrol
L'affaire Elf was the French version of the Gomery inquiry, where a relentless judge named Eva Joly uncovered a huge network of government and corporate corruption that linked 37 suspects to French oil company Elf-Aquitaine by 2001. Though he denies any resemblance, legendary French director Claude Chabrol translates this scandal to his film. Pity he didn’t stick closer to the real story. Chabrol teams up again with his popular leading lady, Isabelle Huppert, who plays the Joly character, here christened Jeanne Charmant-Killman. Arguably France’s best actress, Huppert instils her judge with steely determination when she grills corrupt politicos and bureaucrats. Huppert also elevates scenes with her neglected husband (Robin Renucci), who eventually leaves her. Charmant-Killman is a force of nature and Huppert’s performance drives the film. Unfortunately, Chabrol doesn’t balance Charmant-Killman’s investigation with the damage it inflicts on her private life. Is Lust For Power a thriller or a character drama? Does it milk suspense or examine personalities? Lust For Power fails to do either and so never finds its style or pacing. Instead we get a string of good scenes that don’t hold together over two hours. Bribes, kickbacks, threats and mistresses are alluded to film but are never featured head-on. Chabrol keeps the details of the scandal vague, which keeps us at a distance, especially foreign audiences who likely never heard of l’affaire Elf. There is no director’s commentary or background featurette to link the scandal to this film. In fact, there are no special features whatsoever, unless you count the obligatory theatrical trailer and the annoying previews of four other movies that preamble this film. (Mongrel Media)