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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, thoughtful psycho-drama, 3 Jun 2009
Humpty Dumpty (Wall St, Upton Snodsbury) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night Shift [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
I endorse Trevor's excellent review. This is a very interesting, very well made film that examines the relationship between two men in the context of the workplace and their personal lives.

While in one sense the two men represent different ends of the scale of masculinity, the great feature of director and co-writer Philippe le Guay's treatment of the theme is that both Pierrot and Fred's attitudes to each other and to a notion of masculinity to which they aspire are fluid; there is no question here, as there would be in lesser films, of attitudes adopted at the beginning remaining essentially the same throughout. And while Fred's developing desire to intervene in Pierrot's work and to intrude himself into his family life as well is unsurprising once the viewer realises he suffers from a neurosis or even a psychosis, the apparent need of Pierrot to seek Fred out in his turn is altogether more surprising and disturbing. It's a great tribute to Le Guay that the relationship seems unforced and stops short of melodramatic excess.

I thought only once, where the two men come finally to blows in a cave, did the picture fall into melodrama; at all other times I thought it remained sufficiently rooted in a believable time and place to be very persuasive. The way that Pierrot's wife and son are drawn into the combat is also beautifully done; at first they are witnesses, then gradually they become participants.

The background of a huge St Gobain bottle factory in Central France is a wonderful feature; the molten glass of the bottles on the conveyor tracks is a fine metaphor for the burning desires and animosities of the two protagonists. The minimal musical soundtrack is a bonus. The all-round quality of the acting is first-class, and that of the two principles outstanding. I echo Trevor's surprise that they are relatively unknown.

A thoroughly grown-up film that will appeal to anyone in search of a top-quality psycho-drama.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly powerful workplace drama, 12 April 2006
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Night Shift [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Philippe Le Guay's Night Shift/Trois Huit isn't an easy sell - workplace bullying in a French bottling factory - but it's a surprisingly powerful film, not least because of an astonishing performance by Marc Barbé as the would-be Alpha Male on the night shift who takes on Gérald Laroche's slightly fey nice guy, who seems living proof of Lenny Bruce's old line about liberals being able to understand everything except people who hate them. What's particularly intriguing is the hot-and-cold nature of their relationship: one minute Barbé is marking his territory to exclude him, the next opening up to him and desperate to be included, leaving the impression that his actions are not so much calculated (even when he's winning over Laroche's son after publicly humiliating the father) as an impulsive reflection of Barbé's confused mixture of envy and anger. But it's precisely because you don't know which way he's going to turn that he's such a memorably screwed-up villain.

His victim's reactions aren't so easy to peg either, his desire to just get along often fuelling the problem as much as his refusal to return violence with violence (at least to his tormentor) or to take matters up with management gives his tormentor carte blanche to continue to undermine him. Both offer very flawed versions of masculinity - the new man versus the cool cro-Magnon - in a satisfying drama that leaves you wondering some time after its over. It's just a pity that casting directors haven't made good use of Barbé's talents since.

The DVD offers little in the way of extras - a trailer and some surprisingly detailed text notes - but has a good widescreen transfer.
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Night Shift [2001] [DVD]
Night Shift [2001] [DVD] by Philippe Le Guay (DVD - 2002)
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