Cert: 15 | ★★★★✩
Call My Agent alum Laure Calamy stars in this nail-biting thriller-cum-social realist drama in which a newly single mother struggles to keep her job and sanity amid a general strike.
Julie can’t seem to catch a break.
On top of the daily misery of her commute from the suburbs to Paris, the overworked divorcee is waiting for her ex to pay alimony while she placates her children’s increasingly irate elderly nanny. In addition, she is also looking to leave her job as head chambermaid at a five-star Parisian hotel, for a better-paid job at a marketing firm.
She is wholly reliant on public transport to reach both the hotel and job interviews, which means the strikes have left her, literally, stranded.
We watch as she runs and begs for lifts to and from work in a nerve-wracking race against time, while trying to keep everyone around her happy.
France-based Canadian director Eric Gravel steers us masterfully through the turbulent quotidian of a woman whose life goes catastrophically wrong through no fault of her own. The plot unravels like a slow claustrophobic train crash.
Calamy’s portrayal of the obstacles working women face is magnificent. This is a hugely affecting story of the grind involved in earning one’s daily bread while refusing to give up on dreams of a more fulfilling career.
In fact, it’s fair to say Full Time, bolstered as it is by magnificently naturalistic dialogue, goes further in its quest for realism than anything ever released by the Dardenne brothers or Britain’s purveyor of miserabilist social realism, Ken Loach.
And as well as taking social realism to the next level, Gravel has provided an ending for which very few other filmmakers would have opted.
An ending that feels so real, it’s surprisingly stressful to watch.