DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

At War (En Guerre)

French director returns to the topic of labour rights, and how globalisation is crushing blue collar workers in France, in another electric documentary-like fiction starring Vincent Lindon - streaming now with DMovies

It’s just three years since Stéphane Brizé directed The Measure of a Man, a riveting fiction movie about a factory worker unable to decide whether his allegiances rest with his coworkers or with his employers. He then went on to make the literary drama A Woman’s Life last year. He now returns to the previous topic. While not a sequel per se, At War is extremely similar to The Measure of a Man on many levels, and it does represent the continuation of the labour rights discourse.

Laurent Amédéo (veteran French actor Vincent Lindon, who also played the protagonist in The Measure of a Man) is a factory worker, activist and union spokesperson at Perrin Industry, the automotive supplier branch of a larger German conglomerate. Two years earlier, the union had agreed with the bosses to work five extra hours a week without remuneration in exchange of a guarantee of employment for five years. The employees have kept their word, but the employers have suddenly decided to close down the factory, making 1,100 people redundant. Laurent and his associates refuse to budge. They decide to go on strike and to wage a war against the unscrupulous executives.

This is a film certain to please French hard left leader Jean-Luc Melanchon. Brizé dissects globalisation and capitalism, revealing how vulnerable workers are left at the face of neo-liberal interests. Despite irrefutable evidence that the factory is returning a profit, and that the company shares continue to soar, top management use rhetorical acrobatics in order to convince Laurent that the decision was inevitable. For example, they cynically argue that “everyone is on the same boat”, to which one of the strikers replies: “yes, except that we are in the bottom deck with the shit and the rats”. Government and courts are mostly complacent with sheer injustice, siding with corporate interests. You will cringe at the dirty tricks used by the big bosses. And you will regret that business interests must always prevail above the ordinary workers’.

Just like its topical predecessor The Measure of a Man, Brizé’s latest film also feels a lot like a documentary. Most of the film takes place on the streets and at the negotiation tables, as if captured by a journalist assigned to report on the events. These images are interspersed with fictionalised TV news and interviews. Overall, you are in for a frenetic and uncomfortable experience, with a jarring closure. After all, a working man’s life is no child’s play.

At War showed in competition at the 71st Cannes Film Festival taking place right now, when this piece was originally written. The timing of the film launch wasn’t irrelevant: May 2018 is a very special month for workers in France and elsewhere.

You can watch At War right here and right now with DMovies and Eyelet:

By Victor Fraga - 15-05-2018

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More

The Measure of a Man (La Loi du Marché)

Stéphane Brizé

Maysa Monção - 26-05-2016

The split allegiances of the ordinary man: in this new French movie, worker Thierry cannot decide whether to side with undignified coworkers and customers or to embrace the corporate values that earlier almost crushed his life [Read More...]

A Woman’s Life (Une Vie)

Stéphane Brizé

Victor Fraga - 08-01-2018

Stéphane Brizé's adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's romance about the illusions and the unfortunate fate of a French woman in the early 19th century is a very moving and yet subtle piece of filmmaking - now on all major VoD platforms [Read More...]

Teaches of Peaches

Philipp Fussenegger, Judy Landkammer

Victor Fraga - 23-02-2024

Filthy Canadian singer based in Berlin celebrates the 20th anniversary of her most transgressive work; she remains as sweaty and sexy as ever - from the Panorama Dokumente section of the 74th Berlin International Film Festival [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *