Empty Days

Monday, October 04, 2004



L'emploi du temps.

I've seen a totally wonderful depressing film the other day - in English it was released in 2002 as "Time Out": it's about a middle-class family man who loses his job and hides this fact from his family and friends. And to a certain big extent - from himself. Could have been a pretty flat scenario but the french managed to make it into a sort of existential fresco: inner freedom - social world - meaning.

Something in the sphere of "Death of a salesman" but subtler and more hopeless if possible (the man isn't even given the option of suicide).

Of course the main story is not about economic conditions and joblessness. It's about something quite human: a barrage of lies (including moral deviance) as a means of creating some long-lost freedom from all the life-long expectations one's been chained to (therefore the english title is already an interpretation of the real meaning of the film - the original french title is scarier in its blandness). This perfectly desperate attempt at freedom is seen as madness. Are you surprised? There are too many reviews at rotten-tomatoes but this bit is enough and does not miss the mark:

"From a deceptively simple premise, this deeply moving French drama develops a startling story that works both as a detailed personal portrait and as a rather frightening examination of modern times."

Right - it sure startled me. I was convinced it was going to be some boring french film about some bourgeois couple having troubles. Boy was I wrong. The film was about me - even though I don't work and quit my jobs instead of losing them and don't have children or a social circle to lie to. But I am still lying - to myself first and foremost. And I am lying because I have no choice - I don't even know what my truth is, so what else can I do but lie?

This film is about that sort of lying - spectacularly precise and merciless. And it does not end in suicide, just as in that real life of quiet hellishness.





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