Writer-director Siegrid Alnoy's chilly, disquieting first feature, an fuzzy anticapitalist critique rooted in disgust at the contemporary (read: American) tendency to confuse what you do for a living with who you are, vividly evokes a disturbing sense of free-floating alienation. Temp worker Christine Blanc (Sasha Andres) lives in a small town in the Rhone-Alpes region of France, a dramatically beautiful landscape studded with dreary superstores, office buildings, prefabricated housing developments and malls, empty sidewalks and crowded highways. Painfully out of synch with the world, Christine doesn't understand the subtleties of workplace protocol and can't make small talk or conceal the uneasiness in her own skin that puts off coworkers, supervisors and casual acquaintances who keep her at arm's length. She's mastered the dress-for-success wardrobe in shades of bold red, but she wears it badly; her hair obstinately straggles out of her carefully pinned-up twist. She continues to get short-term placements because her work is impeccable, but full-time employment remains tantalizingly out of reach. She haunts malls and the desolate outskirts of town because they "ask nothing," but in her desperation to maintain a veneer of normality she mimics overheard remarks, alludes "casually" to Jean-Michel (Laurent Poitrenaux), leaving people to assume he's her boyfriend when he's actually her driving instructor, and makes awkward overtures of friendship to the briskly efficient Patricia Maurin (Catherine Mouchet), her boss at the Worktech 2000 agency. In a moment of weakness, Patricia accepts Christine's invitation to dinner, encouraged, perhaps, by Christine's disclosure that she, like Patricia, collects owl figurines. Christine hastily assembles a collection of the tacky knick-knacks especially for Patricia's visit. Their halting friendship ends abruptly in murder: Christine, unable to keep up with the demands of faking familiarity, snaps and beats Patricia to death at a public pool. Whether by karmic quirk or because murder is liberating, Christine's life takes a sudden upturn: She passes her road test and her coworkers invite her out to celebrate. Within a month she's been offered a permanent job, moved in with a handsome coworker (Eric Caravaca) and mastered the art of influencing people (if not making friends), trading favors and stabbing colleagues in the back. Then the police show up, asking questions about Patricia's death. Alnoy's narrative is better suited to a trashy thriller than a vehicle for weighty political themes, but her limpid images, unexpected angles and long, dreamy takes create a beguilingly hypnotic atmosphere of hazy dislocation.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: NR
- Review: Writer-director Siegrid Alnoy's chilly, disquieting first feature, an fuzzy anticapitalist critique rooted in disgust at the contemporary (read: American) tendency to confuse what you do for a living with who you are, vividly evokes a disturbing sense of f… (more)