Human Resources

Human Resources begins innocently enough as the story of a business student fresh out of college who returns from Paris to his home town in the provinces to take a white-collar job at the factory where his father has worked for 30 years. Frank (Jalil Lespert) is the pride of his blue-collar family and once he lands a job in the local factory’s human resources division, a dutiful, enthusiastic employee bursting with new ideas. But corporate politics threaten to put Frank and his father (Jean-Claude Vallod) on opposite sides of a conflict between management and labour. Director Laurent Cantet’s smart, coolheaded and ultimately very powerful film explores class differences, labour relations, corporate chicanery and father-son strife with unusual depth and subtlety. Successfully combining documentary-style realism (astonishingly, the majority of cast members are non-professional actors), astute political analysis and gut-wrenching personal drama (the climactic confrontation between father and son is devastating in its impact), Human Resources is one of the best first features from any source during the past year.

France, 1999.
English subtitles.
100 mins.

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