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Human Resources

By Heather Joslyn | Posted

This is exactly the kind of film we don't make here in these workaholic United States, and should--an unapologetically political film about work. Parisian business student Frank (Jalil Lespert) returns to his hometown to take an internship in the human-resources office of the factory where his father (Jean-Claude Vallod) has toiled on the assembly line for 30 years. Dad beams with pride over his son's rise to the ranks of management, but when Frank's assistance with a plan to revise workers' hours runs into union disapproval and leads to layoffs, the relationship between white-collar son and blue-collar father becomes strained. Lespert does a memorable job of showing Frank's struggle to balance between the world in which he grew up and the one he strives to enter; Vallod is heartbreaking both as a humble man dazzled by his offspring's achievements and as a worker who has internalized low expectations for himself and cannot break the habit. Both actors show the awkward transition that occurs when a child begins to parent his parents, and while writer/director Laurent Cantet's debut feature sometimes hits its political notes stridently, it gets points for attempting to hit them at all.Opens at Owings Mills' Loews Valley Centre Sept. 15.

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