Review by Dan Skip Allen
I've seen many films about power struggles and control of land and countries. Pacifiction is one of the strangest films about this subject I've ever seen. The length of it is almost an instant turn-off for me, but I give every film a chance before I condemn them. Albert Serra needed a little self-control with his camera and an editor for this self-indulgent script.
High Commissioner De Roller (Benoit Magimel) is a French politician who controls French Polynesia. He goes to a nightclub and hotel at night, while trying to be a go-between for the locals and the French government during the day. When word gets out that French leaders want to test nuclear bombs off the coast of these beautiful islands, the people start to worry that their way of life may be over.
De Roller keeps his ears and eyes open by having others watch out for his beliefs and what he stands for. Among them is Shannah, a transvestite who works at the nightclub, but also is a valet when she is needed in that capacity. She's like his right-hand woman. Some enigmatic men want to take control of the island and get in the heads of the locals. The goal is to make them try to stand up for themselves. These island politics cause trouble for the High Commissioner.
An Admiral who comes onto the island with his men and the adjunct leader of the island's people adds a little intrigue to the script, but this script needed to be edited down a lot. This film was way too long, and the director is to blame for this, because he also helped write the script with Baptiste Pinteaux, who wrote the dialogue. The two-hour and forty-minute runtime is way too long for a film of this ilk. This would have been a great hour-and-a-half to a two-hour film.
It's an over-long plodding movie with characters standing around looking off in the distance, whether they're standing in the nightclub or outside looking at a sunset. People just stand around doing nothing for more time than I care to elaborate on. This film was so boring, I had to stop watching it just so I had enough of a break to finish it. I created my own intermission.
One subplot involves a massive storm that hits the island. Some scenes in the movie had the main character overseeing a dance team at the nightclub to show visitors who and what the Indigenous people on the island truly are. Also, the so-called bomb testing was a major part of the plot. This film didn't know what it wanted to focus on the most.
I feel the main character was in a cat-and-mouse game with the people on the island who wanted to take control away from him and the French government. There were also too many subplots that made the film way too long. The main story wasn't that bad if somebody could have had a little self-control. The length was ridiculous for this type of story. I hate to say this, but the director was wrong in many of his decisions in this movie. The one he wasn't wrong about was casting the lead. He was fantastic in this role. I just wish he had a better film to shine in. Unfortunately, Pacifiction wasn't it for him or the viewers watching.
Pacifiction hits theaters on February 17.