THE STORY – After finally getting an interview for a job that will help her provide for her family, a woman must contend with a national transit strike.
THE CAST – Laure Calamy, Anne Suarez & Geneviève Mnich
THE TEAM – Eric Gravel (Director/Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 88 Minutes
Charting a character through a focused perspective through a difficult time period can be an intriguing journey. It’s a path that allows one to experience a range of emotions that create an empathetic connection, indulging in a deeply felt emotional ride that is fascinating to witness. There’s a keen craft displayed that is harder to accomplish than one can initially realize, and the successful effort presents a great reward for a riveting story. “Full Time” tracks the chaotic events surrounding one person, revealing the inner turmoil they must tolerate to survive. It is an engrossing portrait held together by an engaging lead performance.
The film follows the exploits of Julie (Laure Calamy) and her difficult balance of work and home life. She lives in the Parisian suburbs but must commute into the city for her job, where she is employed as the head maid of a five-star hotel. However, a transit strike causes several delays in her travel, impeding her current position and a series of interviews with another job she is attempting to obtain. The stress of the situation also causes strain in her domestic circles, dealing with raising her two children as a single mother. As the week progresses, the intensity of her problems magnifies, creating a series of destructive consequences she must evade before the world comes crashing down around her.
It is truly difficult not to become immediately obsessed with Calmay’s portrayal at the center of the film. She embodies a steadfast determination that encompasses a world of emotion. She possesses the strength and confidence to juggle between her obstacles while also showcasing the frantic mindset that is slowly eating away at that façade. She provides a realistic and authentic turn as a woman desperately trying to improve her standing in life while battling elements both within and out of her control. It’s a performance that is wholly captivating as the layers are peeled back and the raw nerves exposed, and one cannot help but empathize with such a strong-willed character that is grabbing at the few remaining straws for a better life. The spotlight is squarely on Calamy, but her presence is incredibly alluring that it is enough to sustain investment.
Éric Gravel assembles a tone that perfectly inhabits its protagonist’s frenzied and chaotic persona. He creates intimacy through textured cinematography and pulsating score to mirror the steady stream of anxiety, and the audience is immediately drawn into this dizzying web. The sense of immersion with this hectic environment is palpable, and the building tension is delivered in an effective manner. The filmmaking is slightly more accomplished than the writing, which, to be fair, is a serviceable foundation to analyze this harrowing sequence of events. At the same time, the narrative does force some coincidental strands together that cheapen the more grounded realism. There is also a missing context around the ensuing strikes, which almost feels like another layer of commentary regarding labor forces yearning for better treatment. However, this possible metaphor is underdeveloped and a bit too flamboyant for otherwise practical storytelling. Still, Gravel’s achievements are well-suited to create a compelling and enticing spectacle.
What is ultimately so appealing about “Full Time” is its ability to set one directly in the framework of its central character. The omnipresent dread is distinct throughout but realized in a relatable methodology. Not all of the film’s practices work, as the story can lack some finer details to make it richer. There is also an inconsistent sense of momentum meant to ruminate in quieter moments but occasionally feels more sluggish in the pacing. Yet, the atmosphere is still gripping, and Calmay’s performance is absorbing. This particular character study is one that is filled with calamity leading to a satisfying catharsis.