18 sept. 2011

Human Resources

This 1999 film by Laurent Cantet is subtle look at family and class relations. The Socialist Government of France is introducing the 35-hour work week, so a bright college student takes a summer internship at the plant where his father works. His job is to help design the implementation of the 35 hour week (down from 39). Of course, this is an ostensibly progressive reform, but the union, headed by a wonderful firebrand of a woman, about 65-years old, is justifiably suspicious that management will use the reform for nefarious ends. Why not automate the plant and get by with less manual labor, and fewer laborers? The management trainee, Franck, moves from naivety to activism and conflict with his own father, a gentle and compliant factory worker.

While seemingly a dull subject for a film, it is well done. Of course, conservative governments in France have since eliminated the 35-hour work-week.

(Thanks to The Spanish Professor for this film recommendation.)