Directed by Bertrand Tavernier, this razor-sharp satire of politics—both those enacted on the world stage and within the corridors of workplaces—originated in first-hand experience: The film is adapted from graphic novels written by Antonin Baudry, who worked as a speechwriter for Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister during the lead-up to the 2003 war in Iraq. (Baudry co-wrote the screenplay with Tavernier and Christophe Blain, who illustrated the books.) As the Baudry surrogate, Raphaël Personnaz plays Arthur, recently hired by the imperiously named, high-ranking diplomat Alexandre Taillard de Worms (Thierry Lhermitte), a man who speaks in orotund outbursts. These thickets of words, which grow more hilarious and nonsensical as the film progresses, combine egregious clichés, lofty quotations from the sages of ancient Greece, and impenetrable bureaucrat-speak. As Arthur scrambles to figure out just what, exactly, his highly capricious boss wants from him, the crisis in “Lousdemistan” (clearly a stand-in for Iraq) deepens. The new hire must also contend with the petty office squabbling of his territorial colleagues and their bids for power; meanwhile, the overweening Alexandre quite literally creates chaos wherever he goes.
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