It makes sense that the only person who could match Howard Ratner’s (Adam Sandler) sheer chaos from Uncut Gems would be a single working mother. Full Time (A Plein Temps) captures the tense and unbearably delicate structure of single parenthood and how one slight mishap can cause the whole system to collapse.
Julie (Laure Calamy) is a mother of two young children who also works as a head chambermaid at a ritzy hotel in Paris roughly an hour away from her home). Her life is hectic, bit she appears to be managing as well as she can. That is until a full time job interview and a citywide transit strike collide with her breakneck lifestyle.
With its quick cuts, over the shoulder tracking shots and an incredibly uncomfortable synth score that recalls Tangerine Dream, Full Time more closely resembles a social thriller than a motherly drama. As a audience, we feel almost as stressed as a single mother, which only heightens the film’s emotional impact when Julie runs into additional roadblocks.
The film not only gives an accurate depiction of a single parent lifestyle, director Eric Gravel uses Julie’s predicament as pathos to understand just how fragile our entire social system is. As Julie’s world is falling apart all around her because of the transit strike, Paris is literally being engulfed in flames.
While some may see Full Time as anti-worker’s piece, Gravel is really showcasing just how essential every piece of the societal body is to the whole. If transit workers and mothers so crucial to a functioning society, shouldn’t we pay them what they are worth? One thing’s for sure: A boutique distributor like A24 or NEON should pay Gravel what his film is worth so that general audiences can experience the biggest surprise success story out of Venice.
The Silver Lining
Laure Calamy gives one of the best performances of the year as single mother Julie. Calamy brings a frantic energy to Julie that reminded me of my own mother’s determination. Yet it’s when Julie is silent, contemplating her existence, that Calamy’s acting really shines through. From just a slight change in facial expressions, the audience can almost perceive what is running through her mind. To accomplish that kind of connection sans dialogue is a rarity in contemporary cinema and should be showered with acclaim.
Full Time is coming soon to a screen near you.