“Making of”: Cédric Kahn signs an overloaded satire of auteur cinema

“Making of”: Cédric Kahn signs an overloaded satire of auteur cinema

Movies

Three months after the release of the beautiful and dark Goldman Trial , Cédric Kahn is back on screen with a film, rather light this one, about cinema at work. More specifically a film about the making of a film, such as the seventh art has offered us some unforgettable examples (from Eight and a Half , by Federico Fellini, to American Night , by François Truffaut). Far from these models who play with the mythology of cinema while making a place for themselves, Kahn attempts something more realistic and modest, which would tend towards social comedy.

Denis Podalydès plays Simon, a director who begins filming a fiction about the fight of workers who fight to save their factory from closure and take it back into self-management. Quite quickly, however, the scope of the struggle extends to the filming itself. Underfunded at the start, the film in fact pays the price of a lousy producer (Xavier Beauvois, perfect) who promises a lot, delivers little, and ends up disappearing into the wilderness when the situation becomes unmanageable.

Three levels of reality

Left sole master on board by force of circumstances, Simon must therefore fight on several fronts. Oppose the film’s distributors who want to change the story towards a more optimistic tone. Convince his team to temporarily waive his salary. Managing certain actors whose manipulative ego proves unbearable (Jonathan Cohen, strike leader on the court side, strike breaker on the city side). Finally convincing his wife (Valérie Donzelli) from a distance not to leave him.

This is already a lot for a film which does not want to simply skim over things nor reduce them, for lack of the necessary depth, to commonplaces about cinema as a neurotic collective. Cédric Kahn, decidedly reckless, nevertheless adds a layer, by creating a character of a small-handed intern, pizza maker from the adjoining city and passionate about cinema, to whom Simon, on a whim, entrusts the making of the film. With this character, it is therefore the ideally credible representation of a third level of reality – the film, the filming of the fiction, and now the making of the filming – that Cédric Kahn commits himself to. To this multiplicity of levels, ultimately counterproductive, is added that of registers. Playful satire of auteur cinema, plea for the solitude of the director, Bourdieuian analysis of a cultural industry, comedy of remarriage… Playing on all these tables was perhaps not impossible. Even so, it would have been necessary to preserve them from the effect of script smoothing and fading of their own quality that their intertwining risked producing.

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