French High Commissioner De Roller travels around Tahiti in his cream suit, attending various engagements where he is always mediating, always performing. In every encounter, whether with indigenous dancers, local politicians or fellow expats, his sense of colonialist entitlement is ever-present. Though there is never an obvious moment of violence or drama, an implicit tension permeates the whole film.
Serra (The Death of Louis XIV, 2016) is known for his distinctive and provocative style, and here he has created another original, highly saturated cinematic experience. Powered by Artur Tort’s sensuous cinematography and sublimely unhurried performances, Pacifiction is utterly engrossing. Experienced on a big screen, the contrast between the suffocating claustrophobia of De Roller’s authority and the vast, ferocious Pacific waves is overwhelming.