Grand Central – Review by Frances Winston
Directed by: Rebecca Zlotowski
Starring: Tahar Rahim, Léa Seydoux, Denis Ménochet, Olivier Gourmet, Johan Libéreau, Camille Lellouche, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart
In cinemas: July 18th
Unskilled workers are often forced to take some rather unpleasant jobs but many of them would draw the line at working as a decontaminator in a nuclear power plant. Unfortunately for Gary (Rahim) he doesn’t have any other options open to him and is forced to take on the potentially fatally dangerous work. Not fully appreciating the magnitude of his job initially he quickly comes to realise how serious it is before recklessly beginning an affair with his supervisor Toni’s (Ménochet) fiancée Karole (Seydoux). When she falls pregnant and he has a close encounter with the reactor at work he tries to persuade her to run away with him but she is reluctant to leave Toni who slowly starts to realise what has been going on.
This French Austrian co-production boasts some strong performances especially from Rahim and Seydoux however it never really feels as if it takes off. Their characters are the most developed which is unfortunate as there are a few other characters you’d really like to know more about. Their affair is hugely telegraphed from the off so it is no great shock when it happens and in the claustrophobic environment of the plant it is inevitable they will be found out. There is a real sense of people living in the moment since they are doing jobs that could effectively kill them but the stakes never feel as high as they should. However, I do think some of this tension may be lost in the translation of the subtitles. The scenes in the plant are contrasted nicely with some stunning outdoor scenes and Zlotowski really tries to give a sense that people are just trying to get on with their lives and ignore the impending danger that faces them every day.
The best word to describe this is probably bittersweet. The characters are all stuck between a rock and a hard place and there is no sense of resolution with a hopelessness hanging over everybody. Not the most cathartic of films it demands your attention and leaves you pondering life, love and everything in between.