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The 35-hour work week has all of France in its thrall. This film turns it into a feature about economic and familial politics. Frank, a business school graduate, returns to his provincial hometown to take a management position in the factory where his father has been working for 30 years. First Frank makes the mistake of actually asking the workers on the assembly line for their opinions. Then upper management manipulates his findings to lay off employees. This creates a huge rift, not only between labor and management, but between father and son. A human morality tale that evokes paternal and filial love, and illustrates the personal risk behind political ideas. Written by
"Ressources humaines" is a consideration of the tensions created between management and labor, as seen through the eyes of a business grad student serving as a temporary management trainee during his school break.
A proposed 35-hour work week is used as a dramatic charge for investigating both sides of white/blue collar concerns in a factory setting. After a strike is called by the workers, who feel betrayed by management, while management feels betrayed by its trainee who publicly discloses a "secret memo" on the pending firing of several workers, the film ends before a resolution is reached.
Actually, it's not necessary to reveal the resolution, for that's not what the film appears to be about. While both sides feel their respective issues deeply, and both have seemingly legitimate arguments, at least to themselves, we witness what may actually be an absurdist comedy:
Is the creation of a world of limitation a state of awareness that may in itself be spurious? Is the belief in lack a subconsious denial of human potential? Is the reacting to injustice an indvertent bonding of the actor to his own nemisis? Indeed, are not management and labor in effect merely different sides of the same coin?
From a distant perspective, after "Ressources humaines" has unfolded and its passion and emotion subsided, we observe a dented sponge returning to its original shape. Nothing has really progressed, only temporarily allowed its profile to give.
Yes, there is nothing to do in Laurent Cantet's world but to silently laugh at his sharp depiction of errors. Jalil Lespert as the student, Frank, and Jean-Claude as Le pere give mesmerizing performances.
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