The Measure of a Man
Directed by Stéphane Brizé
At the age of 51 and after 20 months on unemployment, Thierry starts a new job that soon brings him face to face with a moral dilemma. How much is he willing to accept to keep his job?
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★★★½ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
Stéphane Brizé's "The Measure of a Man” begins in the middle of a conversation between a laid-off factory worker named Thierry (Vincent Lindon) and one of the many career counselors, job recruiters and loan officers who are largely powerless to help him get back on his feet. The bedraggled 51-year-old Frenchman has spent the first months of his unemployment learning how to operate a crane, only to be told that his efforts won't be rewarded with a job. "You can't mess with people,” Thierry growls at the lackey on the other side of the desk, but both of them know full well that he's wrong — in the corporate world, messing with people isn't just a possibility, it's often a prerequisite for success.
★★★★ review by Cindy T on Letterboxd
The Measure of a Man is a socio-drama in the style of the Dardenne brothers. Two Days, One Night without the deadline. The film features an outstanding performance by Vincent Lindon. His Best Actor Award at Cannes was well-deserved.
★★★★ review by Steven Sheehan on Letterboxd
There is more than a hint of the Dardennes or Ken Loach in this tough character study of a man forced to reassess his standing in the world and the principles that have been the cornerstone of his working life. Vincent Lindon is magnificent in the most subdued sense, always in front of lens, trying to retain a sense of dignity as the rug is continually pulled from under his feet by systematic bureaucracy.
Thierry finds himself unemployed in his fifties, a traditional breadwinner who spent years working in a factory for the same company, with a wife and teenage son with special needs to support. Their savings are slowly dwindling away and Theirry lacks the relevant skills to find similar employment, so he has to take a low paid security job role with a company more than happy to turn the screws on their own staff.
Watching Lindon having his interview technique torn apart by fellow job seekers in an unemployment workshop or trying to explain that he wasted four months on a pointless training course, we see somebody struggling to keep their soul intact. It is the small details of Lindon's performance that make this slow burner so absorbing, the worn down look in his eyes losing their sparkle as he is forced to reflect ever more intently on where he life has led him up until this point.
It's certainly a film for the modern age, telling the story faced by a growing number of workers laid off during these times of austerity. The docudrama, fly-on-the-wall approach works well, allowing us to observe Thierry up against a rigged system. A system where only a certain number of people are allowed to really succeed, while the vast majority find themselves swimming against the tide.
★★★½ review by Zach a.m. on Letterboxd
This movie is basically my life right now.
A few details are different, I am not French or middle-aged, and I don't have a wife. But I have basically wasted three years of my life getting training for something that won't help me and every day I wake up could be the day I wind up getting a forklift license.
Watching Lindon get torn apart in a post-practice interview review also hits home at literally every one of the anxieties I have about how I present myself.
The second half with him actually working a job as a security guard, where he has to compromise himself morally by harassing shoplifters and thieving employees who are forced into these acts due to being as strapped of cash as he was, is unfortunately more funny than heart-wrenching or though-provoking. Still, you feel him.
★★★★ review by Chris Hormann on Letterboxd
Featuring a beautifully restrained performance of subtle grace by Vincent Lindon, this puts "the free market" on trial and finds it wanting. A film which questions what we have become in the Western world and how we have allowed our values to be swept up by the "corporation". A small film with a heart and soul for the people.
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