The Law of the Market

Posted: 11 October 2015 in Uncategorized


This is one of those cases when a mostly negative review actually sends me in the opposite direction—to want to go see the film.

Here’s Jordan Hoffman on La Loi du Marché (bizarrely translated into English as The Measure of a Man):

For 93 minutes, director Stéphane Brizé takes us on a tour of modern economic frustration. Our hero Thierry (Vincent Lindon) has been downsized from his machinist position, and the drama in this social realist portrait has been downsized with it. . .

Lindon’s kind face and soft-spoken manner is the best thing going in this slowly paced film. We watch him patiently explain to an employment agent that the crane-operating training classes he’s just taken were a complete waste of time, as his lack of prior related experience makes him ineligible for that type of work. He smiles his way through demoralising Skype interviews with rude human resource managers who lecture him on the presentation of his CV. Bank managers look at his finances and suggest he sell his apartment, and maybe buy some life insurance, as he isn’t getting any younger.

His wife doesn’t scold him, but is quiet in her support, too. They have a teen child with special needs, and an eye toward secondary education that’s going to cost them. They’ve got some government money coming in each month, but something will have to give. The most tense scene in the picture is a drawn-out negotiation for the sale of their vacation mobile home.

In time, Thierry lands a job, working in “loss prevention” for an enormous box store. (Le mart du Wal, I suppose.) He learns the ways of surveillance, spying on citizens and laying in wait, suspicious of all. The film wants you to consider their transgressions as victimless crimes. First it’s someone stealing an iPhone charger, then it’s an old man on a fixed income grabbing some extra meat. Thierry feels bad, but he perseveres as his own family dines well. His position turns more sour as we learn the bosses are trying to weed out employees. He’s asked to pay special attention to those that may be pocketing coupons or using their “loyalty card” to rack up points.

Brize’s laconic, observational style is a total mismatch for a movie that wants to suggest that it’s totally OK to steal on the job. I’m sure profit margins are high and this place can take the hit, but something about this picture brought out my inner reactionary. Instead of cheering “right on” I was ready to shout “Hey, you know the rules, what were you thinking?!”

Imagine! A film about economic dislocation that doesn’t blame the victim. Sounds interesting to me.

  1. […] Good for Manhola Dargis [ht: bn]. She certainly does a much job reviewing La Loi du Marché (bizarrely rendered into the English-language version as The Measure of a Man) than Jordan Hoffman. […]

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