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PUBLISH OR PERISH

Olivier Assayas, Non-Fiction, 2018, Super 16, color, sound, 107 minutes. Léonard (Vincent Macaigne).

THE ACADÉMIE FRANÇAISE, that venerable body of forty “immortal” academicians charged with policing the French language to prevent the infiltration of Anglo-Saxon words and Gallic neologisms, has been in the news lately because of its inability to fill four of its seats—prized positions that Balzac, Zola, and Verlaine once pursued and were denied. Olivier Assayas, whose own passionate concern with the preservation of French culture is evident again in his new film, Non-Fiction, would recognize the académie’s crisis as the ancien régime succumbing to the inexorable advance of modernity. Ironically, the immortels would no doubt be appalled by Non-Fiction (originally released in French as Doubles vies), whose copious dialogue teems with the terms of social media and digital delivery systems, most of them American in origin—Google, Facebook, Twitter, e-book, iPhone, Amazon Prime,

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