French Film Review : Full Time

French Film Review : Full Time

From the get-go, this movie pulls you along, heart pounding and breathless, in its wake – it is a film you experience rather than just watch.

Writer-director Éric Gravel’s frenetic drama unfolds over a week in the life of divorced working mother Julie (beautifully played by Laure Calamy), who works hard as head chambermaid in a luxury Paris hotel. The daily commute from her far-flung suburb into central Paris is made near-impossible by widespread public transport strikes, and soon the challenges of juggling childcare, work responsibilities, a social life, her finances and interviews for a new job begin to ramp up the pressure.

Literally running from dawn to dusk to get to her job and back home in time to fetch her children, you get the impression Julie is on the verge of a breakdown, although her ability to retain (mostly) her cool despite becoming ever more frazzled is impressive. When she finally gets a job interview for a position more suited to her skill set, Julie has to walk a very tightrope between keeping her current job, and sneaking out while calling on co-workers to cover for her, as more  obstacles pile up in front of her.

Irène Drésel’s pulsating score won this year’s César for Best Original Music, while Mathilde van de Moortel won the César for Best Editing. The movie is Gravel’s second directorial outing, putting him at the forefront of France’s most promising new directorial voices, while confirming Laure Calamy as one of the most gifted French actresses of her generation. No surprise that it won the Best Director and Best Actress awards at the Venice Film Festival: it’s a superb, high-energy slice of life that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Director: Éric Gravel

Starring: Laure Calamy, Anne Suarez, Geneviève Mnich

Lead photo credit : Laure Calamy in À Plein Temps ©Music Box Productions

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