Irish Film Institute -Work Hard, Play Hard

Work Hard, Play Hard

Director: Philippe Harel


Office work and its horrors have increasingly become a central theme of recent French cinema, notably in films by Philippe Harel (the Houellebecq adaptation Whatever) and Laurent Cantet (Human Resources). Jean-Marc Moutout’s film offers further insight into the world of ambitious young execs on the make, on the loose and on the fast track to moral perdition. Jeremie Renier plays a young trainee newly signed up with a prestigious management consulting firm, and placed under the tutelage of a company hotshot (Laurent Lucas), who walks the walk, talks the talk and brooks no argument. Sent to the provinces to oversee the audit of a metal company, he soon realises his task is to prepare the way for redundancies all round, and feels the pull of a less compromised life with his single-mother girlfriend back in Paris. But things aren’t that easy.
If Moutout’s film echoes other workplace dramas-Cantet’s, as well as such Faustian business tales as Wall Street-the detail and the strong acting give it its distinctive touch, with the impersonal opening locale of La Defense, and the script’s matchless ear for baroque French management-speak, adding to the realistic thrust.

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