Employee Of The Month


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Employee of the Month
"Where the film shines is in the incidental details, the small observations and asides which contribute to setting the tone." | Photo: Cedric Bourgeois

Do you ever feel that your hard work isn’t getting the attention it deserves?

Inès (Jasmina Douieb) has been working at EcoCleanPro (“Le cleaning, le pro!”) for 17 years and has only taken two and a half days off in total. She answers phones, she makes coffee, she makes excuses, she does pretty much everything she’s told, with only her loyal goldfish Jean-Philippe (now on his seventh incarnation) to support her. In all that time, she has never had a raise. When regional manager Anna (Laurence Bibot) raises the topic of equal pay at a meeting, everybody just bursts out laughing. Inès’ daughter has advised her to assert herself more. Will this be the day that she finally does it?

Copy picture

Today is a little different from the usual grind because Inès has acquired an additional responsibility: she is now expected to supervise new accounting intern Mélody (Laetitia Mampaka). This mostly involves sitting across the room and keeping an eye on her after Patrick (Peter Van den Begin) – the sort of boss who likes to get his staff’s attention using an actual bugle – instructs the younger woman to spend the day shredding VAT reports. This is about as dodgy as it sounds and before long it will emerge that the company is facing an investigation by the financial police. By then, however, Patrick won’t have anything to worry about, because Patrick will be dead.

Is it an accident? At first it seems that way, and Inès and Mélody band together to assist one another in covering it up. Before long, however, other staff members begin to get unlucky, and Inès puts less effort into pretending. She has had enough. Perhaps it’s the effect of the viagra she stole from Patrick’s desk to keep herself awake, or perhaps it was the beer she washed it down with, but she’s just not willing to play nice any more.

With a large part of the audience able to relate directly to Inès’ frustrations, this film went down a treat at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, but it’s one of those comedies which is likely to work much better in a crowd than when viewed at home, and it may not do so well on repeat viewings. Whilst the characters are recognisable, there’s not a lot of depth to them, and the central premise is neither original nor particularly cleverly explored. Many of the supporting characters are almost indistinguishable – logistics manager Jean-Paul (Achille Ridolfi) and control manager Jean-Pierre (Christophe Bourdon) do everything in concert – and whilst this makes a point, it leaves director Véronique Jadin with less to work with.

The ending is also a bit of a let down, again making a point but too flimsy to balance out what has gone before. Where the film shines is in the incidental details, the small observations and asides which contribute to setting the tone. They present a picture of a workplace which has been on the brink of crisis for a long time, where corners are constantly being cut and financial mismanagement is only the tip of the iceberg. Inès’ quiet collusion with this undermines any perception of her as an innocent who is only now beginning to break rules. It speaks to a culture of neglect and disregard for employee safety which makes a much more effective target for satire than the more extreme events which drive the plot.

Reviewed on: 18 Jul 2022
Share this with others on...
Black comedy. An employee at a cleaning products company accidentally commits a messily bloody crime – and must figure out how to cover her tracks with the help of her young trainee.

Director: Véronique Jadin

Writer: Véronique Jadin, Nina Vanspranghe

Starring: Peter Van den Begin, Philippe Résimont, Laurence Bibot, Alex Vizorek, Thomas Ancora, Achille Ridolfi, Ingrid Heiderscheidt, Jasmina Douieb, Christophe Bourdon, Laetitia Mampaka

Year: 2021

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: US, Belgium

Search database: