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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

Film Review: "The Measure of a Man" (2015) dir. Stéphane Brizé

Film Review: "The Measure of a Man" (2015) dir. Stéphane Brizé

Image Above: ©Stéphane Brizé, Poster for "The Measure of a Man" / Courtesy of Kino Lorber

Thierry, the Everyman at the center of this disheartening and timely social drama, is perfectly played by Vincent Lindon who won Best Actor in Cannes for his role. Thierry is a sensitive, principled man with sad heavy-lidded eyes and the furrowed brow of a conscientious man of sorrow. He has been laid off from his factory job for over a year and the first half of the film deals with his frustrating efforts to find a job, support his wife and handicapped son on his unemployment check, and to join a union case against his employer who laid off 700 of his fellow workers.

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Image Above: ©Stéphane Brizé, Vincent Lindon in "The Measure of a Man" / Courtesy of Kino Lorber

The dehumanizing attitudes of the bureaucrats in the retraining and human resources programs are taking a toll on his self-esteem and his spirit. Yet, he is determined to keep up a positive facade for his family. Alas, his face registers worry and weariness even when he is enjoying himself dancing with his wife. But he soldiers on without complaint even as his money problems mount.

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vincentlindon_measureofaman_2
Image Above: ©Stéphane Brizé, Vincent Lindon in "The Measure of a Man" / Courtesy of Kino Lorber

In the second half of the film Thierry has come to the end of his financial rope when he finally gets a job in a big box store as a security guard. He is tasked with catching shoplifters and keeping an eye on his fellow employees. He is not in the least comfortable with this position as it is putting him on the side of the very same management types who fired him and so many like him. He is forced to confront ordinary people like himself who are in dire straits and commit petty offences out of necessity. Yet there is no mercy shown as they are either fired or taken to the police.

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vincentlindon_measureofaman_5
Image Above: ©Stéphane Brizé, Vincent Lindon in "The Measure of a Man" / Courtesy of Kino Lorber

His days are spent watching multiple close-circuit video screens to detect wrong doing. He hates what he is doing. He knows these people and feels empathy. These are lives of quiet desperation. All of the supporting characters are non-professional and the camera work is very cinema-verite. In fact, it resembles surveillance footage with many long uninterrupted takes which move in very close to the characters and seem to be looking over their shoulders. It lends the whole film a very authentic feeling and presents the all too common plight of so many ordinary people in minute detail. It is not a pretty picture but it is a reality which is made painfully tangible.

Text by Belle McIntyre
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