Time Out (l'emploi Du Temps)

on September 10, 2001 by Chris Wiegand
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   Laurent Cantet's eagerly anticipated follow-up to “Human Resources” is one of a crop of distinguished new French films (including Alain Giraudie's “Real Cool Time” and Philippe Le Guay's “Nightshift”) that explore issues in the workplace. Easily the best of the trio, Cantet's “Time Out” has already received considerable critical acclaim following festival screenings in London and New York, drawing favorable comparisons with Michelangelo Antonioni's 1975 drama “The Passenger.”

   Like his first, Cantet's second feature depicts the dramatic domestic impact of an unwelcome employment change. When he is dismissed from his job, Vincent (Aurélien Recoing), out of a confused mixture of pride and shame, resorts to fakery to hide the truth from his family, convincing them that he has actually received a mysterious promotion of sorts. He subsequently spends more and more time away from home, explaining away his absence to his wife (Karin Viard) as simply an increase in business-related travel. The reality sees him roaming the Swiss countryside and sleeping in his car at night, until time eventually runs out as his friends and family grow suspicious of his behavior.

   Echoing a recent European news story of a man who fooled his loved ones for several years in a similar manner, “Time Out” gains weight through the casting of Aurélien Recoing in the lead role. An accomplished stage actor (amazingly, playing his first lead role in a feature), Recoing anchors the film, while Karin Viard gives a strong, sympathetic performance as his wife. As in “Human Resources,” the film also has several fine turns from non-actors.

   As a director, Cantet has built on the foundation of “Human Resources” and continues to prove himself a master of the small, often ironic, detail. He shows an eye for both desolate settings (service stations, hotel car parks) and dramatic set pieces, shooting in what has become a trademark sparse style and occasionally employing some emphatic thriller elements.    Starring Aurélien Recoing, Karin Viard, Serge Livrozet and Jean-Pierre Mangeot. Directed by Laurent Cantet. Written by Robin Campillo and Laurent Cantet. Produced by Simon Arnal, Caroline Benjo and Carole Scotta. A ThinkFilm release. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Rated PG-13 for sensuality. Running time: 132 min.

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