Saturday, July 20, 2024

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‘Employee Of The Month’ Is Engaging, Entertaining Even Despite Its Disturbing Story

More than two months after going on strike over concerns about artificial intelligence, compensation for streaming programming, and other key matters, members of the Writers Guild of America remain on strike today, and next week members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) could very well join the WGA’s members on the picket lines.  SAG-AFTRA members are set to potentially decide on whether to go on strike next Wednesday, July 12.  If members of the Screen Actors Guild do end up on strike alongside members of the Writers Guild of America, the impact will be felt almost immediately, as it would effectively shut down production of all movies and programming on television and streaming outlets for the foreseeable future.  As a matter of fact, most programming for television and streaming outlets and work on most movies has already been halted for the time being as a result of the Writers Guild of America’s strike.

One can only hope things will not get any worse anytime soon, but in the case that they do, there are still options out there thanks to the independent movie community.  This past Friday, independent movie studio Film Movement brought quite an option to domestic audiences in the form of the French import Employee of the Month.  Originally released in 2021 in its home nation through Velvet Films, the dark comedy is a surprisingly entertaining presentation.  That is due in large part to its story, which will be discussed shortly.  Staying on the matter of the story, its combined pacing and run time adds to the movie’s engagement and entertainment.  It will be discussed a little later.  The cast’s work interpreting the script rounds out the movie’s most important elements and will be examined later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered they make Employee of the Month a must see for any fan of movies, such as Office Space and Horrible Bosses.

Independent movie studio Film Movement’s recently released French import Employee of the Month is a surprisingly (and honestly, shockingly) engaging and entertaining new addition to this year’s field of new independent movies.  This despite the fact that the movie was originally released two years ago in its home nation.  The movie’s appeal comes in large part through its story.  Crafted by Veronique Jadin, the story is essentially an allegory about the gender pay gap in the business world and the inequity of how men and women are clearly still treated so differently in the workplace even to this day.  It is really quite an interesting, original take on the topic that will keep viewers engaged and entertained.  Jadin’s allegory centers on its lead character, Ines (Jasmina Douieb – TorpedoThe BreakScience-Fiction) who has worked at her company, ECOCleanPro for 17 years without ever getting a raise.  This despite her managing the roles of four different positions by herself.  Meanwhile, her male co-workers have each gotten raises and more every year.  One fateful day Ines talks to her boss Patrick (Patrick Van den Begin – King of the BelgiansVet HardEverything Must Go) about why she has not received a raise throughout her time with the company.  What results is an attempt by Patrick to sexually assault Ines, but the company’s new intern, Melody (newcomer Laetitia Mampaka) stops Patrick from his dubious deed.  The thing is that in preventing the attempted assault, she accidentally causes Patrick’s death.  How he dies will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  The thing is that his death is rather…gruesome.  The deeper reasoning for Melody’s reaction is revealed later in the course of the 78-minute (one hour, 18 minute) movie and plays so well into the movie’s bigger story.  As things progress, the women’s body count builds, with three other deaths happening and Ines gaining even more confidence in herself.  Melody eventually confronts Ines about her growing confidence, leading to a few interesting moments of drama that work just as well alongside the more unsettling moments.  The result of the story will be left for audiences to discover for themselves, too.  The overall story truly is unsettling, but one cannot help but sit and watch everything unfold and even root for Ines and Melody through it all, even as disturbing as their actions prove to be.  Knowing the depth of the story at its heart even with the unique approach that Jadin took to the commentary, it forms a solid foundation for the movie that gives viewers reason enough to watch the movie.

Staying on the matter of the story, its pacing and run time are, collectively, even more reason for audiences to take in this movie.  As noted, the movie runs just under an hour and 20 minutes.  That is pretty short, considering how long so many domestic releases are far longer, so this is a nice change of pace.  In that short time, Jadin accomplishes so much with this story, which takes place over the course of just one day at ECOCleanPro’s office.  As things unfold, Jadin manages to keep the story strictly focused on how much Ines changes, and the attempts by Ines and Melody to cover up their crimes.  The whole thing moves so fluidly from one scene to the next, ensuring viewers’ engagement and entertainment all the more.  Jadin is to be applauded for keeping the story so focused throughout.  It is proof positive that even in movies, less really can be more.  It makes for all the more reason to give the movie a chance.

Jadin’s work in crafting the script for Employee of the Month is just one more part of what makes the movie so surprisingly engaging and entertaining.  She is not the only one to be applauded for her work.  The movie’s cast deserves its own share of applause, too, beginning with its leads.  Douieb and Mampaka do such an admirable job expressing Ines and Melody’s unsteady relationship both in the good and bad moments that the duo share.  Audiences will applaud just as much when the women strengthen each other as when they butt heads.  There is something so believable in how the pair compliment one another throughout their performances that makes them such wonderful sympathetic characters.  On a similar note, Van den Begin is to be applauded just as much for making Patrick such a despicable figure.  He does seem somewhat over the top at points as he brings out Patrick’s horribly misogyny, but that is the whole point of his performance.  He is showing just how terrible so many male office heads can be and really are, just exaggerating it a little bit.  However, there is still a certain believability in his performance, which makes it just as entertaining to watch as those of his fellow cast mates.

As if all of their work is not enough to note, fellow cast member Laurence Bibot (FuncorpAppearancesHors Cadre) is to be applauded as the human resources director, Anna Nilson.  Anna’s indifference to Ines’ plight, even being female herself, makes for its own share of entertainment.  That is because it does such a good job of highlighting how indifferent human resources officials are to the concerns of any company’s employees.  Regardless of the field, lack of concern by human resources is, sadly, all too real, so being able to see it on screen and laugh about it is almost therapeutic to a point, especially after Anna gets what is coming to her.  Again, what happens to her will be left for audiences to discover for themselves, but it should go without saying what happens to her at Ines’ hands.  Between Bibot’s work, that of Van den Begin, Mampaka and Douieb, and the other cast members, the whole of the cast’s work is just as enjoyable to watch here as the story that the group tells.  When the group’s work on camera is considered along with the story, its pacing and run time, the whole makes Employee of the Month such a surprisingly engaging and entertaining work.  This is the case even as dark as the movie is throughout.  It makes the movie one of this year’s top new domestic independent movies.

Employee of the Month, the recently released French import from velvet Films and Film Movement, is one of the best of this year’s new domestic independent releases.  It proves itself so worth watching in large part because of its story, which is actually quite the deep commentary about gender inequality in the workplace.  It is the most original approach taken at least in recent memory to such a hot button issue that viewers will not be able to help but watch.  The story’s run time and pacing strengthen the foundation formed by the movie’s story because the movie is so short and still manages to keep its focus from beginning to end in that short run time.  The work of the movie’s cast does just as much to make the movie worth watching as its story, pacing, and run time.  That is because each cast member brings his/her own wonderful performance to the story in each act.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered they make Employee of the Month a fully viable alternative to all of the reality TV programming that may well be on the way this year thanks to striking Hollywood writers and possibly striking actors.

Employee of the Month is available now through Film Movement.  More information on this and other titles from Film Movement is available at: