7.2

Between Two Worlds

Marianne Winckler, a well-known author, goes to live in northern France to research for her new book on the subject of job insecurity. Without revealing her true identity, she gets hired as a cleaner, working with a group of other women. In this new role, she experiences financial instability and social invisibility first-hand. But she also discovers mutual assistance and solidarity, strong bonds shared by these behind-the-scenes working women.
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CinemaSerf

at 17:26 pm

Juliette Binoche is "Marianne", a woman looking for work after her marriage has failed and she is left pretty much broke. The employment agency recommends she becomes something along the lines of a "domestic apparatus operator" (i.e. a minimum wage cleaner). Talk about back-breaking work? Anyway, gradually she finds her feet and falls in with other, similarly situated, folks - notably the affable "Cèdric" (Didier Pupin) with whom she bonds a little (platonically), and "Chrystèle" (a strong performance from Hélène Lambert). It is the latter who manages to get "Marianne" a job cleaning the ferry between Portsmouth and Ouistreham where they work servicing the guest cabins - 4 minutes per cabin! Now I have used this ferry once or twice, so at this point the reality of the film - and of the really tough jobs done by these labourers (for that is certainly what they are) starts to kick in. They have a camaraderie and an esprit de corps that defiantly stands up to the pretty difficult working environment in which they must function. Lambert, especially, but Lèa Carne's "Marilou" and Evelyn Porèe's team-leading "Nadège" all contribute well to the general sense of just how hard these folks toil, and on what tiny incomes they are expected to get by. The twist? Well, midway through, we learn that "Marianne" has quite a different agenda to that introduced at the top of the film, and what conflict there is comes from that realisation by her friends who must come to terms with her true identity. Some applaud whilst other this see as a betrayal. Binoche is convincing here; and the film offers us a pretty scathing attack on not just the employers who pay next to nothing, but on the travellers and general public who seem incapable of flushing a toilet or tidying up after themselves. It does plod a bit; and the ending is both rushed and a little disappointing - but as a critique on an employment sub-culture which many of us just sleep through, it is well worth a watch.