ND/NF REVIEW: Family/Labor Drama "Human Resources" Strikes (Smartly)
by Stan Schwartz
(indieWIRE/4.5.2000) — French director Laurent Cantet‘s first feature film “Human Resources” is a pleasure to watch for any number of reasons. First and foremost of these is the simple fact that, unlike far too many independent films that concern themselves with self-absorbed characters given to excessive navel-gazing, “Human Resources” is actually about something concrete, adult and exterior to the protagonist’s personal angst. In positing the story of a prodigal son who returns home to take a managerial position in the factory where his father is a lowly assembly line worker, Director Cantet accomplishes the difficult task of straddling both public and private spheres. His film astutely charts the intersection of economic and family politics with a deftness that is both admirable and refreshing.
Actor Jalil Lespert turns in a remarkable performance as Frank, a bright, upstanding young man who has just finished graduate business school in Paris and returns to his family in the working-class suburbs to do a summer internship at the same plant where his father works. The trouble is, his post is managerial, which puts him in a rather awkward position in relation to his father, who slogs away day after day at his machine on the assembly line.
The political thrust of the film concerns the real-life issue in France of the 35-hour work- week, something that has potentially harmful consequences for the workers, depending on how any given management decides to implement it.
Poor Frank. This well-intentioned but charmingly na