Echoes of Dostoyevsky. At the start, Christine Blanc is a temp, her boyfriend has gone. Near the story's end, she's been offered a steady job, she has a fiancé, other men seem interested in...
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Echoes of Dostoyevsky. At the start, Christine Blanc is a temp, her boyfriend has gone. Near the story's end, she's been offered a steady job, she has a fiancé, other men seem interested in her, she's passed her driving test, and, after she wins 1000 Euros in a scratch-off, her colleagues sing that she's a jolly good fellow ("one of us"). But something's askew: her gaze is too direct, her eyes open too widely; conversational gambits hit odd notes; she parrots others' words; she cooks too much food when she invites a supervisor to dinner. When the supervisor takes Christine on a spontaneous outing that disorients her, her oddities become something else. Can things ever be normal? Written by
An unsettling film about a woman unable to fit into her surroundings, out of place at work, at home, with her parents. Shot in a very clinical manner - it should come as no surprise that the director admires Resnais and Antonioni. There is some humor in the film, though even that is undercut by some dialogue about wishing to laugh for once without it being at the expense of others. The film manages, however, to include some melodrama: a murder, a police investigation, an off-screen suicide.
I saw the film at a series of French films in New York and was inclined, despite everything, to give the director the benefit of the doubt on a film which, though unpleasant, seemed to have a great deal of sympathy for those who just don't fit in. Unfortunately, the director was present and explained that the film was above all a critique of the workplace, which saps the creativity of workers. Despite my upper middle-class status, I could only think at that point: Elitist bulls**t! For most people, work is the means by which they support and protect themselves and their families. And for many, the workplace is the locus of their creativity--or at least where they can draw on the support and friendship of their co-workers.
There were in this film no children, no books, no sign of the civil society that sustains people faced with earning a living, being decent, facing mortality. The film seemed to succumb, ultimately, to the fallacy of form: only something lifeless, dreary and unrelenting could describe the situation of the workplace. Convinced me more than ever of the formal validity of the work of leftist filmmakers like Loach, Leigh and Godard (at least the early Godard), who are able to depict the contradictions of modern life with vitality and humor and, ultimately, respect for those who have to endure it.
So, yes, a provocative film, but the work of a scold.
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