The Green Deal | La Promesse Verte (2024)

March 28th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/Wri: Edouard Bergeon | Cast: Alexandra Lamy, Felix Moati, Sofian Khammes, Julie Chen, Antoine Bertrand, Adam Fitzgerald | France, Eco- thriller 120′

A French student travels to Indonesia to complete his thesis on the palm oil industry but finds himself on death row accused of drug trafficking in this scenic but schematic geopolitical thriller from Edouard Bergeon.

Best known for his TV fare and award-winning 2019 drama In the Name of the Land Bergeon may have had the seventies cult classic Midnight Express in mind when he set out to conflate themes of ecology, drug trafficking and parental perseverance in his latest look at our threatened environment. The Green Deal is certainly a worthy attempt to address another threat to the planet in the shape of deforestation. But the result is too conventional and not exciting enough to grab our interest for two whole hours. And while the vast jungles of Indonesia certainly look impressive in Eric Dumont’s sweeping cinematography what we get narrative-wise is a worthy painting-by-numbers procedural that fails to generate emotion or surprise.

An impressive opening sequence sees eco warrior Landreau voyaging along the vast river to the heart of Java. Here, he meets up with locals, an inspiring NGO Nila Jawad (Chen) and doctor Paul Lepage (Bertrand). But after filming compromising footage of palm oil farmers Landreau falls foul of the system and ends up being thrown into prison falsely accused of that ‘old chestnut’ drug trafficking which is always wheeled out as an excuse when corruption needs to be covered up by the authorities.

Meanwhile back in France Landreau’s mother Carole galvanises government and big business into action in a bid to save her son, and the planet. From then on the focus turns to the thorny legal and political machinations involved in the palm oil industry exposing the French government’s complicity in this damaging threat to the environment and our health. Despite some interesting plot twists and turns the outcome is predicable.

Bergeon’s message is certainly heartfelt and worthwhile in addressing the issues concerned and raising the profile of this damaging industry that is ripping up and destroying vast tracts of Indonesia’s threatened ecosystems. But the story itself is lacklustre and we feel strangely uninspired by the plight of Landreau (Félix Moati) and his desperate mother Carole (Alexandra Lamy) despite her commendable efforts to drill down on the culprits – big business in cahoots with the Indonesian and (surprisingly) French government whose ministers merely shrug their shoulders in dismay.

The Green Deal works best as an expose of palm oil which is linked to the petrochemical industry and is now found in almost every manmade foodstuff linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Beyond the danger the commodity poses to mankind, deforestation has destroyed a critical habitat for many endanger species – including rhinos, elephants and tigers. @MeredithTaylor



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