Franck, a business school student in Paris, returns to his parents' family home for an internship at the local factory where his father has been employed for the past 30 years. After years of independence, Franck renews his ties with his family, much to the joy of his proud father and mother. At the factory, Franck is assigned to the Human Resources department where he is convinced that he can bridge the differences between the management and union over the introduction of a 35 hour week. He approaches the task with enthusiasm until he discovers that his approach is serving to accommodate a plan to restructure the company and fire several of the employees. The furious confrontation that ensues will oblige father and son to ponder their relationship while confronting the reality of their own lives, past and future.
Jalil Lespert, Jean-Claude Vallod, Chantal Barré, Véronique de Pandelaère, Michel Begnez, Lucien Longueville, Danielle Mélador, Pascal Sémard, Didier Emile-Woldemard, Françoise Boutigny, Félix Cantet, Marie Cantet, Sébastien Tauvel
Father/Son or Blue/White collar conflict
- Human Resources review by TB
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You rated this film: 4
A French film about a student in his last year doing an internship with the company where has father has worked for years and paid for his education. It's rare these days that a movie concentrates on the work-life of its protagonists showing the workplace and the conflicts between employer and unions and amongst the workers. In this case we get a taste of the French system with the different political unions - in this case the CGT (communist) and the rival unions. Father and son are caught up. No wonder France has a high unemployment rate if things are done this way! Good acting all around.
Profound and moving
- Human Resources review by IM
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You rated this film: 5
This brilliant film works on many levels and you don't have to be French to feel it as true to life and poignant. There is the relationship between a father who has worked at a soul-destroying job and made sacrifices, enabling his son to have an education and rise to a different social class. The father behaves like a beast of burden, broken-in to forty years of subservient routine, fearful, unable to change his allegiance to the existing order, even when that order spits him out without pity. But we see that the boss and his management team are equally enslaved to the circumstances of factory life. What choice do they have? We change our views as the film goes on. For example, we initially see the communist union representative as a caricature of petty power politics. Later we see her differently. With enormous skill, Laurent Cantet and his cast have delicately balanced the portrayals of the different characters and the issues they have to face as the plot unfolds. The son, studying business in Paris, has taken on a trainee placement as part of his course in the same factory where his father works. He's assigned to the Director of Human Resources, who as so often happens is responsible for planning redundancies. We see that he is idealistic, but naïve as to how the world works. There is a structure to society as currently organized which exacts a price from all of us.
In accordance with this delicate balance, we may see, if we are open-minded enough, that the film is neither for nor against capitalism, communism or anything in between. It shows us, with humour and pathos again perfectly balanced, a slice of life exposing some of the most significant dilemmas in the human condition.
Worthy French Film with Socialist Message
- Human Resources review by PV
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You rated this film: 2
I note at the end that this film is financed by the EU Film Fund and the BBC, amongst others. No surprise then that it is essentially propaganda - a manifesto for left-wing policies and anti-captitalism and 'the bosses'. As it's a French film, it is ponderous - with long looks into the distance and much 'Where are we going?' existentialism. It shows an innocent who goes over to the dark side (the bosses) before seeing sense and becoming a good little French socialist. How very lower sixth politics class!!! Well-acted but really actually rather dull and worthy all round. Also, it has a really fatal flaw: is anyone seriously arguing that a young man leaving business schools in the late 1990s would not be a seriously greedy grabbing capitalist, looking forward to a high salary and eager to sack people if that was needed? Most business courses didn;t even touch on ethics until after the 2008 crash. And the elephant in the room is this: the Frech socialist 35 hour week caused all the problems and led to the sacking of workers - in real life and in this movie. But watch this if you want to know why France has a massive deficit and lost its triple A rating - if the worker-bosses relationship in France is like this, no wonder French industy needs so many government subsidies (which are all against EU law - like France cares!) THE BEST movie about Unions is 'I'm Alright Jack' with Peter Sellars. This movie is ponderous, worthy, serious and very, VERY French. The Humour of 'I'm Alright Jack' works far better - to my mind, anyway. Humour is surely the only reaction to the absurdities of the work place?