Time Out (2001)

Thought Provoking Film

The French film Time Out is the story of Vincent (Aurelien Recoing)–a middle-aged man who loses his job and begins a series of deceptions rather than admit the truth to his loyal wife Muriel (Karin Viara) and his critical father and supportive mother. Vincent spins a web of impressive lies, and these include his new elite job with the U.N. in Switzerland. Vincent’s parents don’t smell a rat when he wheedles a “loan” from them that will fund his relocation, but Muriel remains mildly suspicious. Vincent spends weeks away from home and returns with elaborate stories about his new job. Family and friends are spellbound by the tales of his success, and soon he’s driving a fancy new car and bragging about his non-existent apartment in Geneva.

In order to finance his rock-n-roll lifestyle, Vincent contacts old friends and convinces them to invest in some foreign business–cash up front, of course. While some people are motivated to greedily hand over their hard-earned francs, others invest because they trust Vincent and want to share his apparent good fortune. Obviously, Vincent’s fantasy life cannot last forever. It is only a matter of time before something goes wrong.

The photography in Time Out is absolutely beautiful–especially the scenes in Switzerland. As Vincent’s car negotiates the snow-filled landscape, somehow the viewer shares Vincent’s sense of bleakness and isolation. This clever film manages to emphasize Vincent’s remoteness and isolation in scenes involving a packed school and a busy office complex. In a crowded room, Vincent is still alone.

The role of Vincent is a first for Aurelien Recoing. Prior to this film, Recoing directed, and yet he really was perfect for this role–so self-contained and self-composed, a very plausible liar, but he also conveys a quiet desperation that plunges him into lies that inevitably must fail. Is he a failure who wants to be admired by his family, or is he someone who has spent a lifetime out of touch with reality? This is for the viewer to decide, and ultimately, the interpretation of the protagonist’s character and motivation are left to the audience. Directed by Laurent Cantet.

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