Comedy of Power
Magistrate Jeanne Charmant has been assigned an extremely complex case involving the misappropriation of public monies. The charges are being brought against the chairperson of a powerful industrial firm. The more her inquiry progresses, the more the magistrate begins to realise the full extent of her power. The more secrets she brings to light, the more she is able to exert this pressure. At the same time – and for the same reasons – her private life hits a crisis.
Before long, she finds herself faced with two important, unavoidable questions: how far can she exert her power before coming up against those who are more powerful? And how long can the average person have such power without becoming intoxicated by it? The story told in this film contains elements that may seem familiar. One only has to think of the scandal involving French petroleum giant Elf Aquitaine, in which certain board members were able to accrue vast fortunes, thanks to the support of politicians who covered up their activities.
Claude Chabrol: " ‘Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental and is not intentional.’ This sentence in the opening credits aims to encourage the audience to get carried away by any possible similarities – without wanting to name them. We also agreed that we would not mention any real people. So you see, ours is a completely fictional world! In short, I was interested in scrutinising the probability of certain events by using recent real-life occurrences to recount them."
Source: 56. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin (catalogue)