Directed by: Eric Gravel
Written by: Eric Gravel
Starring: Laure Calamy, Anne Suarez, Geneviève Mnich, Nolan Arizmendi, Sasha Lemaitre Cremaschi, Cyril Gueï
Released: July 28, 2022
Grade: A-

Full Time

There’s an oft referred saying – before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes.  It’s the first thought which came to mind in expressing my appreciation for Full Time, the latest drama to earn a wider release from the recent French Film Festival.  We may not personally relate to the problems of the film’s leading character but, thanks to the skills of writer-director Eric Gravel, it feels like we’re walking alongside her throughout, and this provides us with a deep appreciation of her troubled life and fragile emotional state.

Guided by a pulsating music score from Irène Drésel, the opening scenes give the film a Run Lola Run-type vibe.  We follow Julie (Calamy) as she leaves home in a small French town, drops her kids off at the babysitter, and then endures a long, frantic commute to her workplace in Paris.  She has a strong resume but unable to land the job of her choosing, she works as a maid for a 5-star hotel where the guests are as demanding as her bosses.

They’re long, long days.  It’s dark when Julie leaves of a morning and it’s dark when she gets back home.  She’s a single mum who puts up a brave face when around her two children but we, as the audience, can see how exhausting and stressful her life is.  Julie is getting no help from her ex-husband (he’s behind on alimony payments), the bank balance is dwindling, and she has few people to call upon for emotional support.  The only moment of the day where she can “switch off” is the handful of minutes when she’s put the kids to bed and relaxes in a hot bath.

There’s a glimpse of a better life on the horizon.  Julie has been accepted for an interview at a marketing company which will offer more job satisfaction and significantly more money.  However, a series of untimely events threaten to derail her chances.  This includes a public transport workers strike in Paris which brings the city to a standstill, and problems at her existing job which are putting her offside with all around her.

Star Laure Calamy won the best actress prize at last year’s César Awards for her wonderful performance in Antoinette in the Cévennes (worth a look if you haven’t seen it).  Full Time continues her run of great roles and shows her dramatic talents are the equal to her comedic ones.  She will make you care genuinely for the character and hope that a few good breaks go her way.  It’s a stressful watch though!  As she hastily rushes between locations and a sense of hopelessness builds, it’s hard not to feel the same way.

Clocking it at a tight 88 minutes, Full Time takes on an intense, memorable journey and delivers a worthy punchline.