Lost Illusions Image

Lost Illusions

By Alex Saveliev | June 21, 2022

Balzac himself dabbled in journalism, and the screenwriters pay respect to the profession while also condemning aspects of it (“the probable will be upheld by the truth”). Like the author, they never forget to be funny, whether ridiculing the elite or fooling around with slapstick. A standout sequence includes the aristocrats having to “suffer” through an opera performance to gossip and mingle during the intermission. An early writers’ meeting, curated by publisher extraordinaire Dauriat (Gérard Depardieu), is a blistering exchange of verbal wit. But then there’s the almost Benny Hill-like incident involving infidelity and Luciene’s boots. Apparently and curiously, French noble folk smoked a ton of marijuana and hashish back then.

Lost Illusions effortlessly mixes multiple elements into a flavorful stew, throwing in sparkling drama to counterweigh all the breeziness. Coralie is at the center of most of these sequences, whether it’s her affliction or harassment by the horrid upper classes. There’s a baptism with champagne, a heavy confrontation with Etienne, and multiple intriguing interactions with the multifaceted Louise.

“…effortlessly mixes multiple elements into a flavorful stew…”

Voisin believably morphs from a naïve albeit ambitious newcomer to an arrogant poser and torn artist. He encounters a slew of characters, smoothly developing chemistry with each of them. The most touching may be his relationship with Coralie, as Dewaels arguably forms the throbbing pulse of the entire plot. Otherwise, it’s difficult to single out any individual performance in an impressive cast. Giannoli coaxes the best out of his actors.

Some may find the two-and-a-half running time wearying. Lost Illusions is certainly nothing we haven’t seen before, at least narratively. But it’s done very well. Sometimes, you just feel like having a good ol’ soufflé.

Lost Illusions (2022)

Directed: Xavier Giannoli

Written: Jacques Fieschi, Xavier Giannoli

Starring: Benjamin Voisin, Cécile de France, Vincent Lacoste, Xavier Dolan, Salomé Dewaels, Jeanne Balibar, Gérard Depardieu, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Lost Illusions Image

"…trots along leisurely but confidently, like a 19th Century French stallion on cobblestone Parisian streets."

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