Full Time

Divorced mother of two Julie Roy (Laure Calamy, "Only the Animals") has her bank breathing down her neck about her mortgage and cannot reach her ex who is late with his alimony payment.  A Parisian transportation strike adds to her problems, making her late for her job supervising the housekeeping staff at a five star hotel and picking up her children with their nanny Madame Lusigny (Geneviève Mnich) just as she’s scored an interview for her dream job in “Full Time.”

Laura's Review: B+

Writer/director Eric Gravel’s homage to the single working mother is an empathetic embrace of the millions of women who battle incredible obstacles and make countless sacrifices to ensure better lives for their children.  Aided by Victor Seguin’s fluid, constantly moving camera and Irène Drésel’s anxiety inducing synth score, “Full Time” is a nerve-shredding experience until the joyful, climactic sigh of relief the filmmaker finally allows both Julie and his audience. Gravel also adds another societal layer to his heroin’s issues by setting his film during widespread transportation strikes, something which also provides Gallic flavor in the camaraderie they inspire among strangers willing to help stranded hitchhikers (ironically, the Yellow Jacket strikes began as the filmmaker was writing his script).

We are introduced to Julie in extreme close-up as she sleeps, sound emphasizing her rhythmic breathing.  It is one of few moments of peace this woman will be allowed.  Calamy is not only constantly on the move physically, but mentally as she tries to stay one step ahead of her character’s current situation.  The actress flips between charm offensives and power moves with intensity when Julie chooses shady means to keep her head above water, wheedling hotel doorman Paul (Olivier Faliez) for use of a hotel taxi or pushing hotel trainee Lydia (Mathilde Weil) into signing out for her.

Calamy can emit extreme exhaustion even while remaining convincingly patient with Chloé (Sasha Lemaitre Cremaschi) and Nolan (Nolan Arizmendi).  She edges into physical comedy transporting and putting together the trampoline she acquires for young Nolan’s birthday, a party of his peers yet one more thing on her plate.  We’ll see this comedic resourcefulness on display once again as she’s forced to use a ladies room for changing and storage while interviewing for the type of white collar job she had before motherhood. 

Gravel and Calamy’s character study is all the more potent for Julie’s flaws.  When a neighbor and father of one of Nolan’s schoolmates, Vincent (Cyril Gueï), is helpful not once, but twice, Julie embarrasses herself with a romantic overture, her murky motivation adding to the character’s authenticity.  Supporting characters, too, come in all stripes, Anne Suarez ("Molière") as her boss Sylvie and Mnich both sympathetic to Julie’s plight to degrees dependent on external pressures while Mareme N'Diaye’s hotel worker Inès is motivated only by anger.                       

“Full Time” is an exhausting yet exhilarating journey through one woman’s extraordinary efforts to maintain equilibrium.

Robin's Review: B

Julie (Laure Calamy) is a single mom raising two kids and working a demanding job as the head maid at a posh Paris hotel. She lives in a remote suburb and must hustle every day to get to work – and has an interview for a much better job. But, her best-laid plans go to pot when the country is gridlocked by a transit strike in “Full Time.”

I was trying to think of another film that maintains the frenetic pace that director-scribe Eric Gravel holds in his sophomore effort. About the only one I could come up with, from the top of my head, is “Run Lola Run (1998).” And that was a whole different kind of yarn.

We hit the road running when we meet Julie as she begins her day in a rush to get to work, prepare for a hoped-for job interview, dealing with the kids and their sitter and fight with her ex over alimony. Then, with all of this weighing on her shoulders, a national transit strike is announced. Suddenly, for the put upon mom, it is almost the straw that broke the camel’s back. Almost.

One thing we learn about Julie, early on, is she is a resourceful (and smart) lady and, from the beginning you root for her. Laure Calamy gives a one-woman show performance as she is front and center for nearly every frame of the film. The actor and her character hold your attention throughout and I really wanted Julie to have a Happily Ever After ending. But, you will have to find out for yourself.

Music Box Films opened "Full Time" in select theaters on 2/3/23.  It arrives on VOD on 3/14/23 and on DVD on 4/18/23.