Would you like to be in Jacques Chirac's skin?
Well, it is possible. At least for 90 minutes while watching a just released spoof film: 'Dans la peau de Jacques Chirac'. Here we sum up reactions to the movie and to what has been dubbed the new national sport of 'Chiracophobia'.
The film's poster seems to ask: is Chirac schizophrenic?
"It fits the idea I had of Chirac: lots of gaffes. He seems kind of out of it — but underneath it all he's not a bad guy," agreed Pascal, 45.
Shaking hands with a dog
From his first steps as a politician in the 1960s, the young Chirac is shown as a suave operator, tirelessly criss-crossing the country to canvass voters and shake hands with anyone in sight — even once with a dog.
Using television clips spanning four decades, it shows him fighting his way to power with unflagging determination — and pokes merciless fun at the policy U-turns that have earned him the nickname "the weathervane".
"He should have been an actor," said the film's co-director, the television satirist Karl Zéro. "As a young man he had great looks — a true heart-breaker — and he believed in absolutely nothing."
"Unfortunately for France, he chose politics."
Produced by the Oscar-winning team that made 'March of the Penguins', the film is the latest example of what the left-wing newspaper Libération calls "Chiracophobia: the new national sport".
Earlier this year, the best-selling book 'The Tragedy of the President', by political journalist Franz-Olivier Giesbert, blamed Chirac for a national drift into inertia, division and debt.
Funny. But fair?
Though movie audiences seemed conquered, the press was more divided on the film, the first to lampoon a serving French president.
"Delicious", wrote the popular newspaper Le Parisien, "although in fairness what politician would survive such a treatment?"
Creator of what he likes to call the 'docu-marrant': Karl Z