Neil Bahadur’s review published on Letterboxd:
Kind of astonishing & beautifully constructed, and much more pensive and contemplative than it is obscure and mysterious. As an aside - it's fascinating to me how this is really the first of Serra's films to really feel like a movie than an art installation which wandered into a movie theatre. Not that the latter is bad in any case, certainly not ever in Serra's ouevre, but it's kind of eye opening in how much clarity and added information it brings here as opposed to that prior work. Admittedly there's an intellectual capacity here that I hadn't clocked in the prior works despite my admiration for them and more than provocative, it's genuinely brave in it's explored connections between colonialism and neoliberalism. With that in mind, the film really spells itself out with it's excellent and telling title, "Pacifiction," though Serra is intelligent enough to not make a gesture of futility towards these false promises. Instead, it's unnerving, scary, sad. For the best he also seems to revoke his cinephile card for the most part though its allusions to Murnau and especially (and surprisingly!) David Lynch are very brilliant.
The sense of sadness and terror are palpable, especially since we're situated with a principle character who actually does desire to prevent the changes from going through only to discover that he's not just powerless, but even more powerless than he thought he was. De Roller's monologue in the films last 40 minutes is the best of its kind I've seen in many years, and is so good at summing up what's going on in this movie that it ironically makes writing about it feel like a futile effort. In the meantime, long silenced nuclear testing resumes, more and more white French soldiers and Navy men become stationed at the islands, and the naive innocent island girls slowly become sex workers one by one. A sad movie where one hope that one day dogs will outsmart their masters, a masterpiece about the cost of keeping the peace.