Pater (film)

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Film poster
Directed by Alain Cavalier
Produced by Michel Seydoux
Starring Alain Cavalier
Vincent Lindon
Release dates
  • 18 May 2011 (2011-05-18) (Cannes)
Running time
105 minutes
Country France
Language French

Pater is a 2011 French drama film directed by Alain Cavalier.[1] It premiered In Competition on 17 May at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.[2][3]


Cavalier and Lindon play versions of themselves, starting work on a film in which they will play the president of the republic and a politician who will be prime minister, respectively.

Though improvised conversations, they sketch out both their fictional and actual relationships.[4]

Cavalier's President character calls on Lindon's Prime Minister character to pass a law on the maximum salary at the national level. The project met with strong opposition and the two men can not muster a majority of MPs behind the project. Having the feeling of not being sufficiently supported by the President, Lindon decides to run for president himself.



Pater was shot with a handheld digital camera

Cavalier said "The year of working together changed us[...] I wasn’t in charge the way a director is in charge. And we discovered things gradually. I used to plan the last shot from the start, and thought about that from the beginning. I had studied Greek tragedy, . I was influenced by films like Renoir's Partie de campagne and John Huston's Asphalt Jungle. Now I want to forget all that."[5]

The film was made with a skeleton script and cast. "I didn’t write one line of dialogue, just a sketch, nine pages, about how I met Vincent, and how we decided to work together, how I would film." Cavalier said the film is "about the intimacy of power and how it is like the intimacy of making a movie together, without a cast, without a classical team."[5]


The New York Times described the film as "an improvised adventure, a game of Let’s Pretend with a political twist, with scenes of the two picnicking in the forest on a gourmet feast, plucking the proper ties and suits from vast closets, and talking of cabbages and kings, as it were — and of how they feel about women."[5]


Critical response[edit]

On film review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, the film has two reviews, one positive and one negative.[6]

Variety described it as the "epitome of an in-joke, best appreciated by director Alain Cavalier and his slender cast, Pater is a confounding slog for most anyone else. Curiously tapped for a Cannes competition slot, this sloppily improvised film about filmmaking doesn't bother to make clear whether and how it's a mock-docu account of the shooting of a French prime minister biopic, as Cavalier cavalierly squanders the chance to represent his meta-narrative in stylistically coherent terms."[7]

The A.V. Club gave it a grade of "D+", saying: "I didn’t get it, and neither did any other American I spoke to, but the French were applauding madly throughout, apparently in response to policy statements. Director and star have an easy rapport, but that’s all I got out of it, I’m afraid."[8]


  1. ^ Smith, Ian Hayden (2012). International Film Guide 2012. p. 117. ISBN 978-1908215017. 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  3. ^ "Cannes film festival 2011: The full lineup". (London). 14 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  4. ^ Peter Bradshaw (18 May 2011). "Cannes 2011: Pater/Hanezu – review". (London). Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Joan Dupont (18 May 2011). "Alain Cavalier’s ‘Pater’: Private Musings of a Public Sort". New York Times. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Rob Nelson (18 May 2011). "Pater (France)". Variety. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  8. ^ Mike D'Angelo (18 May 2011). "Cannes '11, day seven: Two days after The Tree Of Life screening, Lars Von Trier issues a rebuttal". A.V. Club. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 

External links[edit]