When outsourcing gets you closer/and further/ than you think
Is it still possible to create something in a comedy about call centers after the multiple award-winning, and hugely likable Slumdog Millionaire ?
The answer brought by 118318 is yes. First by centering the story on the call center itself, whereas it was just an episode in Slumdog. True, you could also mention "The Other End of The Line" which is more extensively about call centers. But this film is no romance.
So then comes the second idea : locating the outsourced call center in a much closer, although not less exotic location than India. The call center in 118318 (the 118XXX numbers are used in France by phone-directory services, notorious for their far-less-than-professional quality due to the outsourcing of the call centers in terrible countries) is not in India, in the Philippines, nor in their equivalents for the French customer in northern Africa, the call center is here located in rural France - although other world locations will be seen as the story unfolds, but I won't spoil it. And even in rural France, the reps can be slackers. Maybe even more so.
Such slackers that the call center will need a full-scale, last-hope mission to be saved. The local MP who needs the jobs to stay there so he can be re-elected will therefore ask his good friend working for the top, national level government offices to come and rescue the business. Needless to say, this exquisitely trained intellectual (Polivennes) know nuts about call centers, the countryside, and even human relations. He will therefore need time before he can consider the ideas of the low-ranking but inventive and much more down-to-earth rank-and-file within the company. Idea number three : the social satire. Which is the aspect that made me personally laugh the most.
This film without using jargon or getting too technical reveals more, much more than you would initially imagine about the call center business, but also about human relations within a beleaguered company. Although some situations and gags are not new, although the lack of budget is sometimes obvious, the film kept me interested and smiling all along. Acting is definitely decent, and everybody in this film seems to be having a good time making it : the viewer can feel it.
For all its interesting ideas, I believe an American remake of the film would be a success, not only in theaters, but also in management training sessions.
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