With her first feature, Véronique Jadin dares to make a grating, political, resolutely feminist and joyfully outrageous comedy about patriarchy and the working world.
Better to laugh about it than to cry. That’s more or less what viewers – well, especially female viewers – will say to themselves when they relate to Véronique Jadin’s uncompromising portrait of a corporate world plagued by the patriarchy (and also by racism, greed, climate-scepticism, and more) in her first feature film, Employee of the Month [+], which screened at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival after being presented at Tribeca.
For countless months now, Ines has been the employee of the month in her cleaning products business. Taking care of everyone (especially men), she is the pillar of the company, doing the accounting as well as the coffee, the legal support as well as the logistics. Surrounded by macho and occasionally condescending colleagues, she persists in doing her best, desperately hoping that one day her dedication and commitment will pay off. But when the time comes for the annual salary negotiations, and she once again emerges with an honorary title but no increase in salary, and her male colleagues boast about their new cars and other perks, it is the last straw.
During an interview that turns sour, her dreadful boss accidentally drops dead. An irrepressible transformation follows for Ines, who, with the help of her young trainee, the daughter of the company’s former cleaning lady, embarks on a bloody odyssey that gradually resembles a cleverly orchestrated revenge. Fortunately, to cover their tracks, they have access to the cleaning products sold by their beloved company.
The register is therefore comedy, vitriolic comedy, a satirical charge against the world of work, the patriarchy, but also our dominant certainties and our latent racism. It is not far from slapstick, served by an artistic direction that is cartoonesque, with the particularity that here, the women take charge of the physical violence first in spite of themselves, then with a certain jubilation. The cursors are at their maximum, and the cast, both the leads and the supporting characters, seem to enjoy taking on the caricature (first and foremost Jasmina Douieb, a well-known actress and theatre director, a thousand miles away from her known reference universe). There is a real joy in daring to be provocative, even if in this game, we often wish there were even more punchlines, and that the rhythm and the sequence of events were even sharper.
This beautiful irreverence could surely flourish on a less restrictive device. It should be noted that the film is one of the projects supported by the Centre du Cinéma de la Fédération Wallonie Bruxelles in the framework of the call for projects in light production, from which several successful works have already been released.
Employee of the Month was produced by Velvet Films. The film received support from the RTBF and BeTV, and is sold internationally by Reel Suspects.