This is a difficult, even infuriating, movie.
Most of us are familiar with the story of how the tobacco industry fought for decades to obscure the fact about tobacco use, addiction and health issues. We’ve seen the same thing with fossil fuels and opioids.
French writer/director Frederic Tellier (“Through the Fire”) has given us a similar story, based on real events, as seen through several persons on different sides of the issue.
The issue is a pesticide, Tetrazine (a product made up for the purpose of the story). As the film begins, we see a lawyer and his client discussing an upcoming presentation before a judge. The client, Lucie (Chloe Stefani — “Henri 4”), has lost her partner to lymphoma caused by long-term exposure to Tetrazine. Her lawyer, Patrick Fameau (Gilles Lellouche — “Sink or Swim”), presents the evidence which is countered by a lawyer representing the maker of Tetrazine. He loses the case and Lucie is thrown into despair.
Meanwhile, French (Emmanuelle Bercot — “Peaceful”) is enjoying life with her child and husband Zef (Yannick Renier — “Carnivores”), who is in remission from a cancer caused by Tetrazine that drifted from a neighbor’s field.
Finally, we meet Mathias (Pierre Rozen — “Black Box”) who works for the maker of Tetrazine and who job it is to influence public opinion, legislators and experts in favor of keeping Tetrazine legal. We are treated to the machinations Mathias carries out to bribe professors, manipulate legislators, and smear individuals in order to protect the sales and profits of the company. All this is done without conscience, and simply as part of doing business.
Throughout, comparisons are graphically displayed of the everyday environments of work and play for most people and the elite surroundings and influence peddling of Mathias and his partner. He cares for his own children and wife, but nothing for the victims of his poison. His contempt for the everyday French citizen and his ease of telling lies to create a false sense of security are disgusting, but mirror what we experience from corporatists, special interests, and legislators every day here in the US.
The film of course has its point of view and that is one that favors the farmers and loved ones who are suffering, vs the wealthy and powerful who produce products of questionable value. All aspects of the film are expertly presented, from the fine acting, to the tight editing, to the suitable musical score.
If you have ever wondered why everyday people don’t make good choices in how they live, what they vote for, or which issues they support, this movie is for you.
Runtime: Two hours, one minute
Availability: USA DVD Release: March 14, 2023
French with English subtitles
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