France – So what if Truman chose his life?
France de Meurs self-imposes a Truman-show lifestyle that both wrecks and keeps her alive – a take What if your smile was too beautiful not to be seen by the world? What if your presence, your utter beauty and cunning humor could bring world attention to the direst of subjects? What if, by completely objectifying yourself, you could objectively make the world a better place, if not save it altogether? While the movie France has many faults, this red thread of questions running through the movie is both captivating and novel to watch. As the story unfolds, we experience the main character’s inner struggle as she comes to understand her inner demon, drive and passion: The need to be seen. We are in a constant state of immersion into the character’s battle with her Self as she comes to terms with what she perceives as the essence of her nature. However, by repeatedly breaking the fourth wall, France reminds us that she is the master of even the most intimate moments she communicates to us. How much of her depression, pain and empathy are real and how much are an act is never fully clear, perhaps not even to her herself. In an age of social media and self-orchestration, the theme of this movie appears ever more relevant. In the last scene of the piece France closes her eyes as she embraces a new lover, for a moment giving us the impression that she may be done exposing herself to us and the world. Yet, after a brief moment of relief, her eyes reopen, focusing on us, her smile telling us with immediacy that once again we are caught in a half-life half-act with her, too strange and exciting to look away. We too, in a way, can get caught up in the installation of our persona online: We may try to quit and close our eyes, but eventually the thrill of being seen pulls most of us back in, living a life for people to watch. Personally, I found many layers too forcefully added to the movie – naming this woman France, having unthinkable things happen to her in both her private and professional lives without truly giving events the space to breathe – and an ending that was weak in that perhaps the only fully satisfying end, given the course of events, should have been more drastic than what we got. That said, the first two thirds of the movie truly showcase the Truman-show like life this woman has brought herself into, the impossibility of escape, and the perverted love for something as toxic as fame. I commend the actress for so beautifully capturing the essence of the new age of self-enabled, wanted voyeurism.