Leading article: Stranger than fiction

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The British have been confusing fact and fiction about political leaders since the days of Shakespeare. But it's a new experience for the French, who are all agog at the first biopic ever made about a contemporary politician. La Conquête tells the story of a stack-heeled Nicolas Sarkozy plotting to become president, fretting about his height and using language distinctly lacking in politesse to describe his opponents. His wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is said to fear that the film may turn him into an international laughing stock.

There is certainly an irony in the fact that France's First Lady will be playing a fictional character in Woody Allen's latest film, Midnight in Paris, which opens the Cannes Film Festival today, just as one of the nation's leading actors is busy turning the President into a work of ill-disguised fiction. None of this is what the President wanted as his woeful public popularity ratings are showing faint signs of recovery ahead of his long haul to "represidentialise" himself before second-term elections. Yet the word is that the First Lady is not staying away from Cannes to avoid parading her husband in a place of public embarrassment – but rather because, at 43, she is pregnant. There could be votes in that. Fact may yet trump fiction.

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