EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH (L’employée du mois) – Review by Justina Walford

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Véronique Jadin’s Employee Of The Month (L’employée du mois) is an office comedy with a bloody twist seen through the eyes of long-suffering EcoClean office manager Ines and the new intern Melody. The film starts with a pan of the EcoClean office: a generic set up of old desks, shelves of product perfectly lined up, and all the clues of an organized office manager keeping it spotless and character-less except for a fish – a solitary, silent fish.

When Ines enters, so many can relate. She does the lion’s share of the work without complaint. And when everyone goes to lunch, leaving her alone with the intern, Melody, we all feel the loneliness of being taken for granted. But after being rejected yet again for a raise, Ines has had the perfect bad day to go over the edge.

Still passive, the big and bloody moment is not her doing. She has shrugged off demeaning remarks all day, but the moment her creepy boss puts his hand behind her head in an inappropriate counteroffer to her request for a raise, a series of mishaps leads to his bloody demise. The day unravels until Ines finds her inner strength, which looks a little like outward vengeance with Dirty Harry flair, forgive the cleaning product pun.

Through absurdity and dark humor, Employee of The Month delivers a satisfying revenge fantasy that many of us women really wanted all along. In the history of revenge films, we have seen this class of film evolve as women gain prominence in writing and directing. The satisfaction from Employee of the Month is not in bringing vengeance on men’s worst crimes. It’s a gleeful killing spree from years of putting up with dumb jokes and requests to smile. An absurd, but welcome correction to the tiny paper cuts of the daily life lived as a woman in a man’s world.

Employee of the Month has a solid cast and tight plot, with every open plot point tying up by the end. You will likely know the ending fairly quickly, but the fun is in the journey of Ines’ transformation from a passive side character to the hero in charge. It is a well-executed French farce that boldly satires work toxicity, sexism, and harassment with a light touch. Well, a darkly comic, gleefully just, and humorous light touch. And what is most appealing are some well-timed moments of true connection between Ines and Melody.

I love watching films like this because I can watch purely for awkward and relatable office humor one day and, after some thinking and chatting, go back and watch it for the feminist revenge ride that it is and then go back yet again to ponder the nuance of toxicity among women and how we heal when we work together, even if working together includes a vat of acid and a creepy dead guy.

ABOUT JUSTINA WALFORD

An award-winning writer of screen and stage, Justina Walford was also the Founder and Festival Director of Women Texas Film Festival for the life of the fest and she was programming director of Oxford Film Festival for two years. A lover of adrenaline-filled movies since she could understand the word “zombie,” she is particularly drawn to strong women’s voices in alternative genres such as horror, action, and science fiction.

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