Clint Eastwood decided to shoot Full Powers because William Goldman’s screenplay, adapted from a bestseller by David Baldacci, focused on depicting the troubled relationship between a father and his daughter. ” I have been there. I could find links with that,” Eastwood told Richard Schickel, in a biography released in the United States in 1996 (published in France by Presses de la Cité). In 1964, he had, in fact, had an illegitimate daughter, from whom he had immediately lost interest before making a late reversal.

The American actor and director has therefore found personal resonances in this story of a safe breaker, accidental witness to a murder committed by the President of the United States, and who tries to reconnect with his daughter, whom he hardly saw any growth.

Eastwood’s films have always quietly echoed his own existence. In the three Spaghetti Westerns directed by Sergio Leone, he was a man with no name, no identity and no ties. In Inspector Harry (1971), he was only married to his job. In Josey Wales, outlaw (1976), his family was exterminated from the start of the film, and he reconstituted, along his route, a new home, made up of marginalized and left behind.

Ruthless (1992) and In the Crosshairs (1993) inaugurated a new Eastwood, melancholy and anguished, in search of a second chance to recover from an original sin (a murder with explosives in the first film, the assassination of the president Kennedy in the second, near which he acted as a bodyguard), the fault of which he did not forgive himself.

A genre film

What’s astonishing about Powerful Powers isn’t so much this crude critique of the political system or this savory and quite enjoyable way of presenting the president of the most powerful nation in the world (played by Gene Hackman) like a polymorphic pervert and a pathetic ersatz of the Marquis de Sade. What is most surprising is this ability, in a genre film with such apparent strings, to be able to speak so openly about oneself, almost without the alibi of fiction.

In a very powerful scene, Luther Whitney, the scissorhands burglar played by Eastwood, returns home; on his chests of drawers are lined dozens of photos, all neatly framed like trophies chronicling his feats of arms: Luther with his daughter on his shoulders, another of his daughter at school, a second still at university, during upon graduation, and then on leaving court when she pleads her first case.

Regardless of whether these shots are authentic or crafted for filming purposes, Les Pleins Pouvoirs reads like a family album, a rather moving attempt to use the conventions of genre cinema to film in the first person.