Pacifiction: Albert Serra

Pacifiction

Albert Serra, 2022

France/Spain/Germany/Portugal, 162m

Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra reconfirms his centrality in the contemporary cinematic landscape with this mesmerizing portrait of a French bureaucrat (a monumental Benoît Magimel) drifting through a fateful trip to a French Polynesian island with increasing anxiety.

Pacifiction charts the various uneasy relationships that develop between Magimel’s autocratic yet avuncular High Commissioner, De Roller, and the Indigenous locals.

The locals include nonprofessional actor Pahoa Mahagafanau, in a hypnotic breakthrough as De Roller’s trusted right hand and maybe lover, who operate essentially under his faux-benevolent thumb, many of whom we meet at a resort that caters to the prurient exoticism of foreign tourists.

Serra’s gripping, atmospheric thriller is a slow-building fever dream that lulls before catching us by surprise with the depths of its darkness.

The film allows its incisive social commentary about the remnants of colonialism to surface through quiet observation and aesthetic audacity.

A Grasshopper Film and Gratitude Films release.

French with English subtitles

U.S. Premiere