The setting is ominous. The city and the country have all kinds of infrastructure conflicts. The man in charge of improving the problems has ego issues. In Pacifiction, the negatives are in the brilliance of the film itself. Director Albert Serra knows how to utilize ego and personality to serve as a conquering power over other elements in his projects. Pacifiction demonstrates that there is better environment to live in, but politics, culture, and the big boss often prevent anything new.
In Pacifiction, the focus is on De Roller (played by Benoit Magimel). He is a French government official with a mind of his own who cares about his image and success as well as what profits his own name. He is sent to oversee the French Polynesian island of Tahiti. His responsibility is to bring resources to the Island to benefit its people, its environment, and its business infrastructure. De Roller consistently rejects what he is asked for. A business acquaintance named Matahi (played by Matahi Pambrun) pushes De Roller to take some strides to improve the infrastructure of the island. Matahi wants nuclear testing for the island. From De Roller’s perspective, this is a negative, because his actions could cause a news outbreak. The crazy part is that De Roller already has operations that many would deem inappropriate. With shady venues and many singles mingling nightly on a poor island, Pacifiction proves that it is about De Roller wanting his business ventures to benefit him and only him.
The film’s pure adrenaline is within the business and political conversations De Roller has with others associated with the island. All want a form of steady infrastructure to improve the island. De Roller, on the other hand, continues his excuses to not go forward with doing his job. He falls back on not wanting to hurt his image, while he should be ready to take on heat by making changes. Instead, he strives to find ways to prove he is the master in his position, and not to make the island a better place.
There is evidence that poses a risk to De Roller including dirty politics, rumors, and a submarine. De Roller is being watched and the government is out to derail him. De Roller’s ego, his position, and his name may not be able to protect him as much as he anticipates due to the shady behavior going on at the local clubs. De Roller takes part in the wrongful behaviors himself several times. The film’s darkness is within the scoring, the writing, and De Roller’s self-centeredness. Matahi knows that De Roller will do what he can to not make changes. Even De Roller’s local friends Cyrus and Olivier (played by Cyrus Arai and Baptiste Pinteaux), start to feel bridges are burned. The breakdown with even his decent connections does not bode well for the future of the island.
As the risk factors grow as more politics come into play, De Roller’s ruthlessness only grows. He doesn’t want to set aside the pleasure he has in his life and his continued failure to improve the island is due to his corruption. Still, he envisions himself as the philanthropist of his craft and his position and believes there is no one else who can accomplish what he feels he can.
Pacifiction is an artistic and monumental masterpiece. A political ride of enticing factors. It is also a showcase of egotism with a tone that is belittling. Pacifiction is shocking in the way De Roller handles expectations. But can De Roller truly win based on his strategic expertise and conquering mind? Find out in Pacifiction. Three and a half stars.