La Loi du Marché (The Measure of a Man)
Due to economisation, Thierry (Vincent Lindon) loses his job as a factory worker and, at the age of 51, has to go through all the discouraging stages of employment service, job training and endless applications. Unemployment in present-day France is shown as a debilitating, at times humiliating state. Nonetheless, director Stéphane Brizé does not give in to the temptation of telling the familiar story of a man cracking under the pressure of the system: Thierry shows persistence, backed up by his loving family (to make things perhaps gratuitously more complicated, he is also father to a disabled boy). The “working man” calmly accepts criticism for his insufficient CV and performance during staged interviews, and tolerates repeated financial advice telling him how to prepare for the future.
We sense his anger and hurt pride, but he is strong enough to endure 20 months of embarrassing hiatus before finally getting back into the market. In his new job as a security guard in a mall supermarket, observing the entire building through the eyes of the surveillance cameras, he confronts small-time crooks, but mostly poor, common people who are caught taking a piece of meat or a charger they couldn’t pay for. But the management, struggling to survive in the competition, needs to cut jobs and Thierry finds that the tables are turned.
In order to keep his own position, Thierry is forced to painfully vouch against his co-workers – long-time employees who lose their jobs for collecting coupons or loyalty points. Brizé shows us how survival, economics and appearance govern everything in a performance-oriented hierarchy where the working class often pays the price. The welfare state France likes to pose as has long been holed out by the uncompromising law of the market.
The film succeeds in avoiding any obvious judgement and shows the situation as it is. To achieve this aesthetically and deliver authentic images, Brizé employs documentary cinematographer Éric Dumont and casts only non-professionals in the minor roles. The only experienced actor on screen is Lindon, who manages to believably portray an everyday man whose morals are questioned by an immoral system.
La Loi du Marché (The Measure of a Man) does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch the trailer for La Loi du Marché here: