Film critical of Marine Le Pen takes aim at French far-right momentum

By Thibauld Malterre, Adam Plowright, AFP

Few things seem to stop French far-right leader Marine Le Pen from rising in the polls. Not investigations for fraud and hate speech, attacks by opponents nor warnings from experts about her program. Will a new, highly critical film nine weeks before the presidential elections make a difference? “Chez Nous” (“This Is Our Land”), which hits screens Wednesday, depicts the political career of a nurse who stands in local elections for a far-right party called the Patriotic Bloc. The plot makes few efforts to disguise its core message about the dangers of the anti-immigrant, anti-EU far right, which has spent years trying to shed its image as a racist, anti-Semitic movement. “’Chez Nous’ is targeted at people who are angry and is an attempt to represent them, with their difficulties and their sense of having been betrayed,” the film’s Belgian director Lucas Belvaux told Telerama magazine.

“I want voters to understand exactly what they are supporting when they vote for the FN (Le Pen’s National Front),” he added. The film takes place in the sort of small town in northern France struggling with joblessness and the effects of globalization that has become fertile ground for the FN. Promising economic nationalism and a crackdown on crime and immigration, Le Pen has targeted the similar type of disgruntled, working-class white voters that propelled Donald Trump to the White House. The film’s lead role, played by Emilie Dequenne, is a single mother of two who is looking after her father, a communist-voting former metal worker. “You just talked about a revolution. We’re going to do it,” she tells him at one point.