AFFF: THE MEASURE OF A MAN (La loi du marché) [2015]

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Directed by Stéphane Brizé

Written by Stéphane Brizé , Olivier Gorce

Starring: Vincent Lindon, Karine de Mirbeck, Matthieu Schaller


The opening scene of this social commentary is depressingly familiar to me, as main character Thierry explains that he completed a course only to find that there was no work in the field due to a lack of experience. 15 months he has been going in circles, completing courses only to find they are useless. He is angry and frustrated; he lost his old job when the firm closed down, and rather than seeking justice in court like some of his fellow ex workmates want, Thierry would rather forget about it completely and move on. Adding to the burden of having lost a job, Thierry’s son is disabled and needs constant care.

Nothing is exaggerated in this film; his family feels like it could be any in the real world, with the economic problems that come along with that real world. Their situation rings true in Australia, where it is near impossible to find a job if you are middle-aged with little hands-on experience. This movie clearly displays just how absurd it is that experience is almost always required to score a job. How does one get experience if no one will hire inexperienced people? It is a nightmare, a never-ending circle. This film shows just how hard that situation can be for someone who is older, whose career has been unexpectedly cancelled. Thierry interviews for a job over Skype in one scene; in another this interview is being criticised by people who are alleged experts on how to find work. As they comment on his poor body language and tone of voice, Thierry is forced to sit there with a straight face while he is politely insulted.

The camera is constantly looking at Thierry, capturing his reactions to what is happening. He rarely looks happy, despite having finally found a job at a supermarket. It turns out that his new, mindless job is merely another merry-go-round after the frustrating experience of trying to find the job in the first place.

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There is not a lot of action, rather this is a believable character study, with Thierry starting the film unemployed and desperate. The job he lands is significant, as we see a superior telling him how to use the shop’s camera system. Anyone could be a shoplifter he is told, but when he brings in people who have stolen, they are often in a similar financial situation to Thierry, who looks like a beaten man for much of the film, but especially during these scenes where it is clear that he can empathise with the offender. But despite this he still does his job, he continues to bring in offenders.

The film has an odd flow, as there are many long takes with very little happening. The camera-work isn’t anything grand so these scenes feel strange and wasteful. Despite four beer(1)being a short film it still manages to feel poorly edited too. A very understated character piece, Vincent Lindon is the main reason to see this film; his face is extremely expressive. The story certainly feels real, not to mention relevant. Relevant it may be though, unfortunately it failed to entertain. The economy is bad, work is hard to find, we get it. This movie displays all this accurately but it doesn’t have anything else happening. There is no story, and we barely get to know Thierry or his family, resulting in a film that feels real but also underwhelming.

Two beers short of a sixer

4/6