Full Time – Film Review
by Frank L.
Director – Eric Gravel
Writer – Eric Gravel
Stars – Laure Calamy, Anne Suarez, Geneviève Mnich
Julie Roy (Laure Calamy of ‘Call My Agent!’ fame) is a separated Mum trying to bring up two children on one income in the outer suburbs of Paris. She has a job as head chambermaid in a swanky hotel. In order to make this workable she is dependent on the public transport system and the support of an elderly childminder. She is also dependent on her ex paying the monthly maintenance on time. Before she had children she was in the world of business executives. If any of her support systems come under strain the whole carefully constructed timetable starts to fall apart. She needs to find a better job for herself and her kids whose daily demands are increasing. When she has a spare moment she searches online for an executive job and she obtains an interview for one. In order to attend the interview, it requires even more planning because it is during office hours. Her relationship with her immediate boss is already strained therefore she needs to ask favours from her colleagues.
Julie’s day is a mass of responsibilities. At one level there is the rush and tumble of getting the kids to the childminder in the morning, her long commute and the mind-blowing attention to detail as a chambermaid in the daily preparation of the hotel bedrooms. These are within Julie’s control to an extent. What is not in her control, at all, are the prompt payment of the monthly maintenance and the smooth running of the public transport system. On the day of the interview, her cash is perilously low because of the non-payment of the maintenance and there is a train strike. Julie is under extreme pressure as she tries to get to the interview using her limited cash to get around the strike.
From the very beginning, the stresses of Julie’s day dominate as she juggles single-handedly with the multiplicity of her responsibilities. The tension generated is heightened by the musical score, the cinematography and the editing which all increase the sense of pressure under which Julie is operating. Gravel has taken the familiar, everyday existence of Julie and transformed it into an edge-of-your-seat, helter-skelter journey. What is fascinating and impressive is that Julie’s existence is not that dissimilar to that of many women as they grapple with a job and kids. In short, Gravel has taken the mundane and commonplace and made it into a nail-biting thriller.
This is Gravel’s second feature, following on from Crash Test Aglae in 2017. It contrasts the luxuriousness of the lives of the hotel residents, who are not seen, with the grind of those who help provide it. It is a contrast worth making. The film lasts just over two hours and at all times you are on Julie’s side as she faces her multiplicity of challenges. It is a nerve-wracking but very worthwhile view of the other side of life, and those who struggle to make ends meet.
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