Élysée ★★★½


From my year-end avant-garde wrap-up for Keyframe:

The elite corridors of power are seldom seen by most of us. Are potential leaders ushered into those sacred halls and then formed by them? Laurent Grasso’s Élysée is an intense study of the intimate connection between governmental power and the spaces afforded to it. Using a gliding camera in extreme close-up, Grasso shows us the décor and design of Salon Doré, the presidential office of the Republic of France.

Situated on the second floor of the Palace Élysée, the French equivalent to the Oval Office is remarkable not just because of the tradition it embodies—the room has served since 1848—but also because that tradition seems less a faît accompli than a pleading claim. Grasso shows us the trappings of bureaucratic government as it strives for the royal self-evidence of yesteryear.