Railway strikes, needy children, a birthday celebration to plan, a job in Paris (an extended commute away), interviews for one more job (which demand sneaking away from work), and a babysitter who’s more and more over it: The deck of Julie Roy’s life is full, and since that life is occurring quick, Éric Gravel’s César-nominated Full Time establishes a lot of this fullness inside solely quarter-hour.
The film doesn’t waste time: Julie, performed by Laure Calamy (Name My Agent!), doesn’t have any. The railway strikes make it tougher and tougher for her to get to work, as a chambermaid at a Parisian resort, on time each day. This makes it simply as exhausting for her to get dwelling at an inexpensive hour, which infuriates the older neighbor watching Julie’s youngsters, as a result of the youngsters are exhausting. Julie needs a greater state of affairs. She was once a profitable advertising and marketing supervisor. She was once married. Now, her ex-husband doesn’t take her calls, pays alimony late, and locations her mortgage in danger, to say nothing of sharing duty for the youngsters. Julie is making an attempt to get a greater job — she asks her coworkers to cowl for her whereas she dips out for job interviews, which they do, till they don’t — however there isn’t a assure.
She is making an attempt to be a superb mom and a superb worker inside a system that appears intent on making this unimaginable. She leaves her present job off of her resume — the sort of element that Full Time properly permits to talk for itself. What is healthier: Making an attempt to maneuver again into the white-collar world with a 4-year hole that may be defined away by having youngsters, or telling this new advertising and marketing agency that you simply’ve spent the final 4 years altering mattress linens and wiping up after wealthy assholes (actually)? One of many nice feats of Full Time is its quietly contingent view of employee solidarity. Even Julie’s resort job is in danger due to this pressure. The rail strikes which have the Paris metro space in a chokehold for the extent of the film make Julie’s life near-impossible. TVs and radios are all tuned to the information all through the film, and the one information apparently value listening to is of the strikes and the chaos that ensues.
It isn’t that Julie blames the strikes. It’s that she has to get to work. It isn’t that Full Time units her in opposition to these strikers, regardless of their making her life that rather more troublesome. It’s that the film is intent on exhibiting us a ground-level view of labor, and of the hassle to drag oneself up into a greater and extra equitable life (which means: to make more cash). It’s a view of labor by which the fates of the working class are intensely, tragically interdependent. There isn’t a higher means for the strikers to make their level, argue for his or her intrinsic value, than to reveal the chaos of what is going to occur after they decide out. Julie’s life feels the impact of this, however solely as a result of the lives of the strikers have implicitly been topic to comparable travails — that is what justifies the strike.
Julie can relate. Full Time doesn’t exit of its method to gussy up a hardened view of Julie’s precise job; it doesn’t slum round within the soiled particulars. A number of exact scenes are sufficient to inform us what her life within the resort is like. “The visitors are very demanding,” Julie advises a trainee at the beginning of the film. “The value lets them be.” We by no means see the visitors. The lives of the chambermaids are so divorced from the resort’s prospects that the visitors’ absence from the movie solely makes the resort extra believable. They’re purported to be invisible, Julie instructs. She advises the trainee to put on higher deodorant — her scent calls consideration to her presence — and teaches her the traps laid out by the visitors concerning, one presumes, stolen objects and different skilled miscarriages for which ladies of their line of labor is perhaps blamed. It’s thankless work. It’s the sort of job the place the employees have a code phrase for his or her worst-nightmare project — it occurs sufficient, apparently, for there to should be a code phrase. The code is Bobby Sands, after the incarcerated member of the IRA who died after a starvation strike in 1981. Sands is notorious for smearing the partitions of his cell with excrement. The code phrase speaks for itself. Once we get to listen to the ladies use it, it’s due to a kind of wealthy visitors — a Scottish musician, of all folks, who leaves the lavatory so sullied that solely an influence washer can clear the tile.
Full Time is political and topical, although not as a result of it leans on a way of discourse or goes out of its method to ache Julie in purely downtrodden phrases. It’s extra so all in favour of characterizing Julie’s life as a combat, by default. Her anxious face, courtesy of the expressive portraits of Calamy that fill and maintain the film, speaks fairly loudly by itself. Gravel has designed Full Time like an intricate, whirling entice predicated on the rhythmic repetitions of a workweek — solely, daily, an increasing number of goes incorrect. And when issues go incorrect, the film will get to remind us of how contingent every thing is. Every new interview for Julie’s new job alternative means having to name on favors from her coworkers to have the ability to slip out. Every newly-crowded workday means the chance of getting dwelling later and making her babysitter angrier. It’s a home of playing cards. You watch with a way that any new element can have the ability to make all of it topple over — and Julie with it. The film is a thriller as a result of it hangs on a set of sensible, incurably dramatic questions. Will Julie get the job? Will she survive this? What else will go incorrect?
Gravel’s methods as a director work as a result of they’re easy and environment friendly, similar to his star, and similar to the character she performs. Each scene feels brief — each mishap proceeds amid an onrush of an excessive amount of occurring. We spend a whole lot of time watching Julie run — actually haul ass — from place to position, which is one of some causes that the film has garnered comparisons to the work of Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, well-known for his or her stripped-down, thriller-adjacent research of working class contingency. I considered Lorna’s Silence, watching Full Time, due to that film’s indebtedness to the sound of Arta Dobroshi’s heels as she runs and frets from place to position, like a soundtrack to the urgency of her ordeal. I believed, too, of Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night time, who has been charged with convincing her coworkers to surrender their work bonuses to ensure that her to maintain her job.
Julie’s leaning on the equally-vulnerable is an concept that Full Time shares. Julie should continually name in favors — from her fellow chambermaids, the valet, the neighbor watching her children, the folks she begins to carpool with. The place Full Time separates from the Dardennes is in its fashionable sound and really feel — it’s a quicker film than the sort they make, and its soundtrack, with its wall to wall techno-pulsing agitation taking part in all through the film, is like one thing out of a Safdie brothers image, which is itself a method that throws again to motion pictures’ Tangerine Dream period, a sort of devilishly catchy however threatening digital groove.
Full Time is entertaining however appropriately nauseating. The film arcs, in its personal means, towards one thing like aid. However there may be tragedy in even this. As a result of the aid shouldn’t be so hard-won: Julie’s future, her capability to supply for her youngsters, shouldn’t come at such a excessive value. There’s a shot late in Full Time that exhibits Julie ready, but once more, for the practice. Solely: we’re seeing her stand on the observe’s edge. We’re catching her from behind together with her face in profile, turned towards the rushing machine because it comes. We are able to hear the practice coming. It’s unimaginable to not surprise if Julie will soar. The ending of Full Time is much less like a breath of recent air than just like the panicked inhales of a girl who’s simply been saved from drowning.
There’s no room, on this, for the sort of optimism you could belief — there’s no certainty, nonetheless, no actual, durative promise being made that from right here on, all can be properly. There isn’t a one round to make such a promise. For some, Gravel’s film may really feel too reductive, too tightly sewn to the very backside line of Julie’s life, and thus like an excessive amount of of a thriller with too myopic a view of the life that it depicts. However what saves it from these flaws are exactly its well-timed moments of aid and the sense, even within the film’s most harrowing, nose-to-ground moments, of how far Julie’s destiny extends past her story alone. They’re all — every one of many staff depicted right here — leaning on as many different folks as they will. They’re going down collectively. There isn’t a different means of spinning it. What ought to really feel like laudable shows of care between susceptible folks as an alternative turn out to be proof of the dangers folks pose to their very own jobs, and their very own fates, by providing to assist others. Full Time works due to, not regardless of, its chopping thrills. The nervousness we really feel as we watch could be very a lot the purpose. Julie resides on the sting. The film marvels at her capability to maintain her stability. And it laments the truth that her survival ought to rely upon it.