A fast-talking arriviste suffers a "Bitter Victory" within the corrupt halls of provincial French power.

A fast-talking arriviste suffers a “Bitter Victory” within the corrupt halls of provincial French power in writer-director Francois Favrat’s underwhelming sophomore thriller. Starring Clovis Cornillac (“Paris 36″) as a streetwise developer who underwrites a mayoral contender in the hopes of receiving kickbacks, the pic gives a rather wide political fresco only smallscreen-style treatment, and has neither the dramatic weight nor the cinematic panache to suit its subject. Following a modest Gallic rollout, scattered victories will be landed on the French tube.

Based loosely on events occurring in Lyons in the ’80s and ’90s, the script updates the action to contemporary Aix-en-Provence, where self-made real-estate mogul Xavier Alvarez (Cornillac) connives at becoming the right-hand man of mayoral candidate Vincent Cluzel (Christian Clavier, in a rare and convincing noncomic turn). When his plan backfires, Alvarez tries to cover his tracks before cops, corporate enemies and Cluzel himself beat him to the punch. As with his two-hander, “The Role of a Lifetime,” Favrat focuses on the love-hate relationship between an underdog and an elite. But the drama is undercut by lax filmmaking and TV-style tech credits.

Bitter Victory

France

Production

A Mars Distribution release of a Les Films Du Kiosque, Mars Films, France 2 Cinema production, in association with Banque Populaire Images 9, Cinemage 3, Uni Etoile 6, with participation of TPS Star, France 2, Cinecinema. (International sales: SND Groupe M6, Paris.) Produced by Francois Kraus, Denis Pineau-Valencienne. Directed by Francois Favrat. Screenplay, Favrat, Stephane Cabel.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Giovanni Fiore Coltellacci; editor, Samuel Danesai; music, Frederic Fortuny, Jeff Hallam; production designer, Denis Mercier; costume designer, Nathalie Raoul. Reviewed at UGC Orient Express 7, Paris, Dec. 13, 2009. Original title: La Sainte victoire. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Clovis Cornillac, Christian Clavier, Sami Bouajila, Vimala Pons, Valerie Benguigui, Maryline Canto, Marianne Denicourt, Eric Berger, Michel Aumont.
With: Clovis Cornillac, Christian Clavier, Sami Bouajila, Vimala Pons, Valerie Benguigui, Maryline Canto, Marianne Denicourt, Eric Berger, Michel Aumont.
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