There is something of a French The Crown in this exciting, larger-than-life biopic, played by Laurent Lafitte on a mission.
“You will remember this name: Tapie !” He wanted to make history. He wanted to mark France. He will have succeeded to the point of being entitled to his Netflix biopic! Bernard Tapie, the man of a thousand lives, is told to us in a grandiose way in the platform’s new event series. 7 episodes which remake the myth, replay history and deconstruct the legend with distance, respect and obvious fascination. It must be said that the extraordinary journey of this son of an artisan from the proletarian world, who forced his entry into the bourgeoisie with a crowbar, is simply incredible. In the literal sense. So crazy, it’s hard to imagine that all this really happened. And yet.
In the 1960s, the young Bernard Tapie dreamed of a rich and powerful destiny. To achieve this, he tells himself that he just has to become a singing star. He therefore went through a televised talent show, where he caused a sensation, under the nose of a certain Michel Polnareff. Except that he will succeed while Tapy – who changed his surname to be American – experiences a resounding flop with his pseudo hit “Passport to the Sun”. Never mind. Bernard is not a man to let himself be defeated and accept his fate as an average Frenchman. To the great dismay of his young wife, he tries to start his first business. A revolutionary household appliances store. Businessman Bernard Tapie is born. And from brilliant ideas to wacky concepts (the episode about his company Cœur Assistance, which wanted to charge SAMU for heart patients, is particularly enjoyable), he will build a name, a reputation, to the point of becoming a captain of ‘Industry transformed into the figure of France which is winning, with its own TV show… Then the boss of OM will make his way to the mysteries of the Elysée, the ephemeral Minister of the City of François Mitterrand, determined to make things happen in the neighborhoods. Before its fall, inexorable when you fly so close to the sun for so long…
More than a biopic on a 20th Century celebrity, Tapie is a chronicle of success, a fable of the social rise of the Republic, a biting and moving painting of a character larger than life, who refused his condition. The strength of the series is that it is not intended to unfold the Wikipedia entry of the fallen artist transformed into a businessman. Tristan Seguela And Olivier Demangel did not seek to reproduce the life of Bernard Tapie to the letter. They distanced themselves, modified some names, some facts, to give more body and power to their story. “We are not making a biopic of the facts, but a biopic of the man, a portrait, with all that that implies of shortcuts, synthesis, fusion or invention.n”, they told us recently in an interview to read in Première magazine in September 2023. Through Bernard Tapie, the series also tells something of the country, of the France of these fin de siècle decades. Because the self- made millionaire was the product of an era and the spirit of The Crown undeniably looms over the series. “The Cown was one of our references for writing”confirms to us Laurent Lafitte, very involved in development. The royal English series from Netflix indeed shares this sense of fictionalized history, this desire for fiction entangled in reality, which gives strength and empathy to the characters. In this vein of the assumed fictional biopic, Tapie takes a lot of liberties with a certain historical truth.
Because the series does not seek to make a documentary, but a drama. Laurent Lafitte did not put on the wig to ape the severely “burned” Nanar that The Guignols passed down to posterity. The actor has barely aged between episode 1, in the sixties, and the finale, 30 years later. Because that’s not the important thing. Because Tapie makes fun of the comparison with reality and this is certainly how biopics are the most interesting. “I don’t even look that much like him in real life,” laughs Laffite. And when it comes to drama, Tapie has some great assets to put forward, to the point of bear comparison with The Crown.
The dialogues are scathing. The writing is delightfully effective. The casting is perfect. Joséphine Japy And Camille Chamoux admirably surround the hero Dumasian. And then the historical reconstruction is amazing, with attention to detail. Even in the Valencienne prosecutor’s office, an improbable setting for a truly masterful finale. Confined to a few square meters, on a humid summer evening, a stifling closed-door situation plays out before our eyes. Bernard Tapie, at the height of his power, comes to try to intimidate Eric de Montgolfier who is investigating the OM-VA affair. What follows is a breathtaking face-to-face encounter. A meticulously dialogued sequence, ideally staged and which alone sums up this Tapie Netflix version: stunning, beyond the resemblance.
Tapie, season 1 in 7 episodes, to watch on Netflix from September 13, 2023.