It is probably a terrible idea to start reviewing a film with asking you a question. But this, I must say, is something I have to do, as you will certainly do the same throughout the film. So, what is the real measure of a man? By saying man, I do not mean any gender here, but rather touching the aspect of being a human being. Would you agree to keep your job if the impact of your responsibility may take someone’s life? What about a mortgage you have to pay off, or a family you have to feed? Well, the good news is you don’t have to stress yourself that much to look for an answer, as Stéphane Brizé has prepared a detailed response for you to think over.
“Why do you send someone to take a course if you know this won’t take him anywhere?” asks Thierry Taugourdeau in the opening scene. As he gets more frustrated about the courses he took to work as a crane specialist on a construction site, he explains his situation to a man, adding that, nobody wants to hire him because he has no experience working on construction sites. So, what’s the point of wasting his time for a job that nobody will ever hire him for without practical experience? The long five minutes of the opening scene gives a great taste of an intellectual film you’re about to see. But believe me, it’s nothing in comparison what the rest of the film has to offer you…
We quickly find out that Thierry is an unemployed factory worker who struggles to find a job. He is married and has a disabled son to look after. As he finds it difficult to make his ends meet in working-class France, the man does his best to find any job possible that more or less will help his family. A woman, later on, will ask him why doesn’t he sell his house to pay off his bills? That question comes from a social worker, who literally forces Thierry to consider that painful idea.
He even goes that far, as he sees no choice, but to sell his house. Does he it or does he not is not what that particular part of the film tries to reveal. But rather the situation a single man who is thrown in a well advanced society that creates more trouble for people than opportunity to quickly reduce the financial issue. However, it’s the second part of the film that slowly takes the viewer into a different world of Thierry where, after being studied and presented as a very troubled man at risk to lose his house and stability, has to face the biggest dilemma of his life. But before that he has to realize the real measure of being a man, when to cross the line, and what to do when the line has been crossed…
It’s remarkable to see how Stéphane Brizé is cruel towards Thierry, but in the meantime, so compassionate. The filmmaker, who also co-wrote the screenplay goes deep into a painful subject that I am sure many people in the world go through. At certain scenes, Brizé takes his time allowing Vincent Lindon to portray Thierry the way he envisioned him. That, I have to confess, is what will astound you most. Lindon’s subtle approach towards Thierry will make you watch the film as if you would watch someone’s life through the eyes of Lindon, who was simply, simply brilliant.
In conclusion, “The Measure of a Man” or “La loi du marché” (original title) touches upon a sensitive subject that the society tries to avoid. It shows the reality that for some of us is unseen. It tells the truth when it needs most. It opens the eyes for people who look at the things through rose-colored glasses. More importantly it bares the essence of reality of how real life works for many people, and how a limited amount of them still remain humane when the humanity is what they need most.
Opening April 15
TORONTO – TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St W
Opening April 22
OTTAWA – Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank St
Opening May 13
Montreal – Cinema du Parc, 3575 Avenue du Parc
Montreal – Beaubien, 2396 Rue Beaubien Est
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury Special Mention – 2015 Cannes Film Festival
Best Actor (Vincent Lindon) – 2015 Cannes Film Festival
Best Actor (Vincent Lindon) – 2016 César Awards
2015 Cannes Film Festival
2015 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
2015 Vancouver International Film Festival
2015 New York Film Festival