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Recently fired from his job, but unable to confess the truth to his close-knit family, Vincent spends his days driving around the countryside, talking into his cell phone and staring into space. Vincent fabricates a new job for himself so his family and friends will not know that he is out of work. At one point, he even sneaks into an office building. As Vincent roams the building's sterile halls, peeking into meeting rooms where men are busy at work, we see a man who yearns not just for a new job, but also for a place in the world. While this pantomime of work initially registers as sad and even a little pathetic, it slowly and unnervingly becomes terrifying. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The English language title Time Out is not entirely fitting. Perhaps Time Running Out would be a more appropriate title, since this is exactly what Vincent, the main character, is going through.
Vincent (Aurélien Recoing) is a highly motivated financial consultant. Or, at least, that's what he used to be. Fact of the matter is, he lost his job three months ago and now concocts an elaborate facade to cover up the fact he is now unemployed. While his wife, Muriel (Karin Viard), thinks he's at work, Vincent is aimlessly roaming the highways, hanging out at rest stops, and sleeping in his car, regularly calling his wife to give her an update about his next meeting and apologizing for coming home late, before turning in for his overnight stay in his car. Vincent lives like a ghost, increasingly detached from his wife, children and former colleagues, he doesn't seem to realize the truth is closing in. One day, they will find out. But Vincent has gotten to a point where he's constructed his own dream world. He resorts to reading all kinds of economic pamphlets about his apparent line of business, studying and memorizing them like he really is active in this line of work. As Vincent needs money, he makes up a plan to defraud old friends and his parents out of their savings by letting them in on some bogus investment scheme. He conducts his business out of a hotel lounge, where he catches the eye of Jean-Michel (Serge Livrozet, a brilliant role), a "real" , experienced operator who immediately recognizes Vincent is a fraud. He offers Vincent a job in his own operation, meaning some extra pocket money and perhaps even a way out of his increasingly sticky situation.
Director Cantet's style is distinctly unflashy. Set against the wintry landscapes of Rhône-Alpes around Grenoble and Annecy, the film makes very good use of its locations. Whether it's the bland office complexes in the "zones commerciales" at the outskirts of anonymous towns, or the snow-clad mountains surrounding them, it seems to blend perfectly with the film's tone. Accompanied by a beautiful classical score, Cantet shows himself a remarkably sharp and observant storyteller. Although the film maintains interest throughout, the running time of 132 minutes did seem a tad long, and Vincent's lengthy economic arguments when conning his friends and relatives (some of them business men themselves) out of their money weren't terribly convincing. His arguments range from unconvincing to downright nonsense. At least he would'n have convinced me, but even my 91 year old grandmother wouldn't have bought any of this for a moment. But, some of these inconsistencies aside, this is a skilfully constructed film and an engrossing psychological drama that slowly unfolds like a thriller with a brilliant performance by Aurélien Recoing to top it off.
Camera Obscura --- 8/10
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