I accuse: criticism of an injustice



Even for those who have only slightly followed his lessons in younger history, Alfred Dreyfus is a name that evokes something. The case that sticks to his skin is considered one of the biggest judicial errors of French history (even plot). However, it is probably the open letter of Emile Zola published in the newspaper Dawn – and with the scathing title: I accuse… ! – about this injustice that has remained in the memories. No wonder then that the new feature film by Roman Polanski resumes the title in its title: I accuse.

However, if it is based on this real and adapted fact of the book D. British Robert Harris (co-screenwriter of the film), I accuse does not dwell on the denunciatory article of the famous writer. On the contrary, the film focuses primarily on Colonel Picquart's quest for truth, former Dreyfus professor turned lieutenant-colonel and head of the military intelligence service, when he discovers that Alfred Dreyfus was wrongly convicted. What to launch a story with multiple springs and manipulations.

PhotoI accuse… ! of Zola as an obvious


The French-Polish filmmaker no longer has all the talent he had in the 60s and 70s when he released his masterpieces of Rosemary's Baby the Tenantbut he does not care less a real intelligence of the narrative.

Thus, the opening of I accuse impresses with its imposing and oppressive setting. The introduction of the intrigue – which takes place with the military degradation of Alfred Dreyfus (embodied by an austere Louis Garrel) – is remarkable, extremely meticulous and provides an immediate force to the story.

Far from making his film a mere pageant, Polanski quickly turns him into a spy thriller where Picquart plays Sherlock Holmes. A judicious idea that gives a real interest to the political, judicial and military issues behind the Case while giving it a fun and entertaining as well as instructive progress. The film is then a quest for truth, dignity and justice in the heart of a system perverted and manipulated by lies and prejudices, in the first hour robust.

PhotoA striking opening sequence

Unfortunately, if the intentions of I accuse are laudable and narrative choices conducive to progressive feverishness, the film never really takes off. Jean Dujardin may deliver a remarkable performance in the shoes of Colonel Picquart, the multiple finds of this man of honor ready to many sacrifices to prove the innocence of Dreyfus, follow each other, look alike and end up going round in circles.

The investigation is in full swing and yet I accuse bogged down in a neurasthenic or even totally apathetic rhythm, the narrative giving body only political issues and rarely to those humans. No doubt I accuse could have become a great film about the shortcomings of Justice as he is the most mastered and solid of the director since The Ghost Writer in 2010, and this despite some digital encrustations unfinished.

Photo Jean DujardinJean Dujardin impeccable


For that, it would have been necessary that Polanski really wanted to talk about the Dreyfus affair in his film. At the viewing, difficult indeed not to see Polanski to parallel his own story with that of the French soldier. In the press kit of the film, the filmmaker has moreover fully confessed: "I know many of the mechanisms of persecution that are at work in this film and that obviously inspired me".

However, it is a huge mistake for the director to think that he can compare himself to the persecution of Alfred Dreyfus. To their great difference, the latter was always completely innocent unlike the director who himself was convicted of raping a minor, admitting during his trial in 1977 to have sex with a girl of 13 years. years.

A disturbing comparison on the part of the filmmaker of 86 years, which is probably the main reason for the declining power of I accuse. Failing to narrate the story of his character to the end with passion, the filmmaker wanted to graft his own, preventing the ensemble from fully revealing itself and involving the viewer emotionally. Pity.

Photo Jean DujardinJean Dujardin impeccable second version

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