It’s rare to see class struggle depicted on screen without allegory or illusion to soften its edges.
That’s the promise delivered on in Another World – the third film from renowned French filmmaker Stéphane Brizé.
In this clear-eyed character study of blue-collar worker turned middle manager, Philippe (Vincent Lindon), Brizé explores the ethical compromise that underscores social mobility under capitalism.
Brizé eschews formalism in favour of oppressive reality. The camera is often static, languishing in drab office spaces and conference rooms, making the drudgery of Philippe’s life feel inescapable.
It’s under the glare of incandescent light that Philippe is tasked with the impossible: pacify an increasingly irate workforce in the wake of a series of brutal layoffs.
Philippe is no angel and his ascension through the ranks of his middling home appliance company leaves a trail of disloyalty and double-dealing in its wake.
But, for all this, he still has a conscience. He hatches a plan to pass up his annual bonus, and those of the other managers, to rescue his workers from further hardship.
His intentions are thwarted when the bosses reveal an awful truth: they know the layoffs are avoidable, they want to swing the axe in a show of strength.
Philippe is left to grapple with an impossible decision. Whatever he chooses, we know – under a system as cruel as capitalism – only moral victories can be snatched from the jaws of defeat.