Full Unemployment Cinema - Free Film Screening
Date: Sunday 26 October, 2008
Location: The Pullens Centre, Crampton St, SE17
Programme: Time Out / L'Emploi du Temps by Laurent Cantet
I don't feel like a militant, but I'm involved in the world and what's happening. My films show feelings about things, not ideals. They're not very didactic, but Time Out is quite radical in its political meaning because it's revolutionary to try to think of a world without work. What would that world be like? I don't think the world can be without work, but I think some people who won't ever find their place in work should be allowed to live without work. I think people could choose to work for a while, then take a while to just think about what they want to do. – Laurent Cantet on Time Out interviewed by Manohla Dargis, L.A. Weekly Writern, April 19, 2002.
Time Out explores the alienation of work and the terrifying extent to which work and identity have collapsed into one another. The film draws partly on the case of Jean-Claude Romand, a doctor for the World Health Organization, who killed his wife and their two children, shot his parents, swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills, and torched his tony suburban Geneva mansion. Romand, it turned out, had never been a doctor, much less worked for the WHO. For 18 years, he had kept up the deception, piling lie upon lie until the money ran out – which is when he decided to take his family's life, as well as his own. Cantet: 'he preferred to kill them rather than be judged by them'.
Though less extreme than its real life inspiration, Time Out is a study of the haunted, paranoid life of a middle manager going through the motions. Vincent, spends his days and occasional nights touring the French highways, pretending to be employed. Vincent has lost his executive position, the kind that's provided his wife and three children a comfortable suburban house and a well-upholstered middle-class life, but he hasn't yet told anyone he's been cut loose. Initially, his silence comes across as evidence of shame and perhaps even moral cowardice, but as the story unwinds and Vincent puts more miles on his new life, it becomes clear that he doesn't fear life without work; he embraces it. What seemed pathetic now takes on the edge of rebellion – the man who wasn't there, it turns out, didn't want to be there at all.
http://www.popmatters.com/film/reviews/t/time-out.shtml and http://linkme2.net/ex
Laurent Cantet, Time Out / L'Emploi du Temps (2001) 129 minutes.
Photograph of Serge Livrozet, former prison activist who plays Jean Michel in the film