Directed by Stéphane Brizé
“The Measure of a Man”, whose original French title “La Loi du Marché” literally means ‘the law of the market’, mirrors the social/economic crisis that fustigates the contemporary France.
The skilled Vincent Lindon, awarded 'Best Actor' in Cannes, plays Thierry Taugourdeau, an unemployed 51-year-old factory worker who invests everything in specialized courses that seem not to be enough to get a job. He’s been looking for the smallest opportunity for more than a year now, after an unfair dismissal, and the financial problems are now starting to grow as a snowball. Thierry is a considerate family man who dedicates time to spend with his disabled child and goes to dance classes with his supportive wife in order to keep his mind sane. To guarantee this state of mind, he also refuses to follow his former co-workers into court and ask for an indemnity. It’s easy to conclude that his self-esteem and confidence hit the bottom.
After simulating a job interview at the employment training center he’s enrolled, he gets the following remarks: the inability to smile, the way of dressing, the wrong posture when he’s sitting down on the chair, the low rhythm of speech, and the lack of enthusiasm when answering the questions. Despite the difficulties, Thierry is accepted as a security guard in a well-monitored supermarket, regaining his financial stability while witnessing a variety of theft cases committed by customers and employees. Having gone through hard times, he continues doing his job in a conscious way, but can’t avoid showing some uneasiness when listening to the motives that led these people to steal.
In one case, involving a long-time employee, a lamentable tragedy occurs, and the silent Thierry becomes more and more overwhelmed by the way the management often reacts. Ambiguity surrounds the last scene of the film, making us wonder if Thierry will continue in the job for the sake of his family, or if this is too emotionally strained for him to handle.
Director Stéphane Brizé, who also co-wrote with Olivier Gorce, avoids sentimental manipulations and hurls an actual, urgent theme that mixes family, work, and morality. Not disregarding his straightforward filmmaking style, the film caught me mostly because of the powerful acting by Vincent Lindon, who previously had worked with Brizé in “Madame Chambon” and “A Few Hours of Spring”.