Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. France, 2015. Nord-Ouest Productions, Arte France Cinema, Canal+, Cine+, Arte France, TS Productions, Region Ile-de-France, Centre National De La Cinematographie. Screenplay by Stephane Brize, Olivier Gorce. Cinematography by Eric Dumont. Produced by Philip Boeffard, Christophe Rossignon. Production Design by Valerie Saradjian. Costume Design by Ann Dunsford, Diane Dussaud. Film Editing by Anne Klotz. Cannes Film Festival Awards 2015.
Vincent Lindon is a factory worker suffering the global economic crisis, out of work and taking training courses in the hopes of getting something new. He goes to employment counselors, he meets with his financial adviser and goes on the odd job interview, while at home things are getting tense as expenses are paid out of savings and his physically challenged son has needs that require a steady income. Eventually Lindon gets a job as a security guard at a suburban superstore that has him keeping an eye on customers to prevent theft, as well as getting involved when employees of the store commit infractions. How much having a job matters is put to the test when Lindon comes up against matters of human need in a crisis, presumably because it reminds him of his own struggles, in a predictable and not particularly intelligent film that only a comfortable middle-class perspective could be responsible for. Naturalism that poorly copies the style of the Dardennes brothers’ films is punctuated by archly dramatic plot turns that feel shamelessly contrived, before a conclusion that is downright preposterous (if you honestly think having a soul matters more than having a job, you’re having a much better life than a lot of people, and also French movies were looking at this stuff in the nineties). Lindon’s haunted eyes and quiet expressions provide a steadying influence on what is mostly an aimless experience, while his scenes at home with his loving wife and charming son are the film’s best, but one can feel director Stephane Brize patting himself on the back for his measured view of the working classes throughout. It’s a good film if it’s the first of its kind that you’ve seen, otherwise don’t expect too much.