Laurent Cantet – L’emploi du temps AKA Timeout (2001)



Film festivals are by their nature notoriously cut off, isolated in such a manner they rarely function as the best place to fully appreciate or accurately evaluate the merit of new works. Laurent Cantet’s astonishing “L’emploi du temps” (“Time Out”) suffers from no such equivocation. It is a masterpiece, the best film shown in this strong festival.

Cantet’s debut feature “Human Resources,” distributed in the U.S. through the Shooting Gallery Film Series, was a marvel of political urgency, social verisimilitude and human conflict. Outlined with some of the same Oedipal struggles of that film, “Time Out” is a perfectly made, emotionally piercing and artistically accomplished examination of the desperation and despair of an essentially good and caring man driven to craven, absurd acts of self-delusion. With echoes of Michelangelo Antonioni’s “The Passenger,” the movie presents a terrifying and gripping portrait of a man so alarmed at what he has become that he invents an idealized portrait to cover up his faults and limitations. Continue reading

Laurent Cantet – Entre les murs aka The Class (2008)


Cannes Palmes d’Or winner ‘The Class’ follows a year in the lives of a class of junior high students who present a microcosm of society.

A fully sustained immersion in the academics, attitudes and frequent altercations of a group of junior high school students, “The Class” marks Laurent Cantet’s return to the sharply observed social dynamics and involving character drama that distinguished his 1999 debut, “Human Resources.” Talky in the best sense, the film exhilarates with its lively, authentic classroom banter while its emotional undercurrents build steadily but almost imperceptibly over a swift 129 minutes. One of the most substantive and purely entertaining movies in competition at Cannes this year, it will further cement Cantet’s sterling reputation among discerning arthouse auds in France and overseas.
Workshopped extensively with nonpro tykes at a Paris school in a manner not dissimilar to Mike Leigh’s improvisatory style (or that of “Human Resources”), “The Class” is a loose but full-bodied adaptation of Francois Begaudeau’s 2006 novel documenting a year in the life of a classroom, “Entre les murs.” French title translates to “Between the Walls”; fittingly enough, the film’s roving HD cameras never once leave the school grounds and only rarely leave the classroom, which is presented here as a microcosm of cultural, intellectual and aspirational differences. Continue reading