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New Release Review - THE MEASURE OF A MAN

A middle-aged man struggles to re-enter the workforce.





Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Stephane Brize

Starring: Vincent Lindon, Karine de Mirbeck, Matthieu Schaller



Lindon is fantastic in a quiet role that requires him to act as an emotional punching bag as Thierry goes from one degrading scenario to the next. It's impossible not to root for this guy, but while you may be shouting "Give him a job!" during the film's first half, by the end you'll be pleading for him to quit his soul destroying position.



Anyone who has spent time unemployed in recent years will be familiar with the soul crushing and time wasting procedures Thierry, the protagonist of Stephane Brize's outstanding drama The Measure of a Man, is forced to endure. That said, for many in full time employment, things aren't much better, as employees are so often forced to make moral and ethical compromises in order to keep a roof over their heads.


Channelled through an outstanding performance by Vincent Lindon, Brize's film shows us how whether in employment or relying on state welfare, the working class are rarely in charge of their destiny, forced to grovel to an array of suited drones and endure insulting training courses designed to help governments cook their unemployment books.

When we meet Thierry first he's dealing with the first of several soulless authority figures he encounters throughout the film, an unemployment officer attempting to coerce him into yet another pointless training course, despite Thierry explaining how he already wasted the previous four months on a course that lead nowhere.


As the movie progresses, we're forced to watch the gradual destruction of Thierry's dignity as he endures a series of meetings with bank managers, trainers and potential but unlikely employers. Particularly painful to watch are a skype interview in which Thierry is criticised over the sloppiness of his resume, a negotiation over the sale of Thierry and his wife's (Karine de Mirbeck) mobile holiday home, and a mock interview course in which Thierry is literally mocked for his lack of visible enthusiasm.

Giving up hope of finding a job he's actually qualified for (Thierry is an experienced machine toolist), Thierry, like Jean-Pierre Leaud in Truffaut's Stolen Kisses, takes a position as a store detective. Utilising the sort of surveillance technology more associated with keeping tabs on suspected terrorists in the Middle East, Thierry is told to look out for any suspicious activity from the store's staff, as the management is desperate to reduce numbers. It's drone warfare on a smaller scale, and it's not long before it begins to take a toll on Thierry's conscience as staff with decades of service under their belt are sacked for pocketing discount vouchers.


Lindon is fantastic in a quiet role that requires him to act as an emotional punching bag as Thierry goes from one degrading scenario to the next. It's impossible not to root for this guy, but while you may be shouting "Give him a job!" during the film's first half, by the end you'll be pleading for him to quit his soul destroying position. The Measure of a Man is a harsh reminder of the increasing difficulty of taking charge of your own life in a globalised economy, and a brilliant if highly uncomfortable watch.
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