Dans la Peau de Jacques Chirac

Gueule d’Amour

June 6, 2006By Heidi EllisonFilm

In Dans la Peau de Jacques Chirac (Being Jacques Chirac), French television personality Karl Zéro and his collaborator Michel Royer have made a mock autobiography of Jacques Chirac by stringing together actual film clips from the French president’s 40-year political career and adding a fake narration on his life and times by a voice imitating Chirac’s.

The film pokes gentle fun at the president’s contradictions, ambition and lack of substance, providing plenty of laughs for anyone familiar with recent French political history.

Although the filmmakers certainly set out to critique Chirac, however, this is no blistering political commentary. We see clip after clip of Chirac hamming it up for the camera, kissing babies, shaking hands, contradicting himself and repeating the same catchphrase over and over, but it’s easy enough to catch out any politician doing all of the above.

In the end, this film is actually a comedy with a jocular tone that is almost affectionate toward the president, without ignoring his many defects. Clips showing Chirac condemning racism, for example, are followed by another in which the campaigning politician decries the plight of the poor French worker whose immigrant neighbor with three wives and 20 children fills their apartment building with unpleasant odors.

Zéro, who describes the film as “a comedy that is not political, but ‘on politics’,” says that when he was a child he thought that this man with strange hair that “seemed to have been painted on” was an actor because he always on the small screen, and indeed Chirac’s career paralleled the rise of television in France.

But why make this film now, when Chirac is at the end of his career? Perhaps to caution the French against falling for another politician with a gueule d’amour (lovable face) but little substance behind his dimpled good looks?


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