A Model Employee (2002)

Ignoring the average 2-star customer rating of The Model Employee (Une Employee Modele) on Netflix, I decided to watch the film for myself. After all, I reasoned, it couldn’t be that bad with seasoned French actor Francois Berleand in the lead male role.

Well, the final credits rolled, I turned off my DVD player, and The Model Employee rates one star from this viewer. This stinker of a film begins well with wealthy, middle-aged business man Francois Maurey (Francois Berleand) driving off to work following a spat with his high-maintenance wife Caroline (Nicole Calfan). As the owner of a computer company that has developed a secret computer code called X27, Maurey is under a lot of pressure to sell out to ‘the Americans’ and start making the big money. That evening, as Maurey drives off from work, he almost hits a beautiful young woman, Florence (Delphine Rollin) who runs right in front of his car.

Maurey plays the knight in shining armour to the distressed Florence who’s running from an abusive husband termed Le Rocker (Steve Suissa) by the cast of this dreary cast. Maurey drives Florence to a safe haven and even goes the extra mile by offering her employment at the switchboard at his company. Soon, there’s a fair amount of T&A in the film, and the camera takes advantage of Delphine Rollin’s body by putting her on top.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Maurey’s friend, Charles (Hubert Saint-Macary) has also developed some new computer code. All these geniuses in one film….

While at first the film is mildly interesting as we try to puzzle out just what Florence’s game is, the film devolves into a muddled mess with a plot that’s got more holes in it than a pound of Swiss cheese. Into the pot throw a little blackmail, murder, vague corporate shenanigans, and a dash of James Bond, and before you know it, it’s quelle horreur with this French stinker that doesn’t make an ounce of sense.

Just as you think the agony is over, the preposterous plot rolls forward to its ending into even further absurdity and makes even less sense than it did 5 minutes before.

A Model Employee is touted as film noir and also a thriller in the style of Alfred Hitchcock. Don’t believe it. The film is decent enough on the relationship parts (and I think French film is at its best when it concentrates on relationships), but the film is horrible when it comes to the thriller section. Stuffed full of cliches with the spectre of the ‘American sharks’ of capitalism snapping at the heels of the principled French, the film defies credibility. It’s amusing to me that while the film takes potshots at the cliches of the American businessmen who will stop at nothing to get what they want, the film itself sinks to the very worst cliches of American cinema. While capitalism vs. principles is a viable paradigm, here it’s reduced to the level of caricature. So much for principles.

As a fan of French film, perhaps it’s reassuring to realize that they too make their share of rubbish. Put this one in the same bin as that other French nightmare, The Machine. From writer/director Jacques Otmezguine.

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