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The Crack Magazine

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La Syndicaliste

Director: Jean-Paul Salomé

Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Marina Foïs, Grégory Gadebois, François-Xavier Demaison, Marina Foïs

Based on true events, this French feminist drama charts the experiences of Maureen Kearney, a dogged and well-respected union representative working for nuclear energy company Ariva. When the company’s boss (Foïs), with whom Kearney (Huppert) enjoys a good working relationship, is forced out and replaced by the boorish and aggressive Bachmann (Demaison) her life takes a darker turn. She uncovers a dubious deal involving the Chinese then starts receiving threats and intimidation, culminating in a brutal assault. Dealing with the police presents yet more problems. Kearney’s story contains all the requisite ingredients for a cracking political thriller, but director Salomé drops the ball with sluggish pacing, particularly in the first half, and pedestrian direction. The characterisation is one-dimensional and didactic, with all of the male characters, excepting Maureen’s loveably bearish musician husband Gilles (Gadebois) depicted as brutish and/or misogynistic. Huppert is in inscrutable mode here, her face mostly impassive behind black-rimmed glasses, which makes some kind of sense in light of second-act revelations, but keeps the protagonist at a distance.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter at @DWill_Crackfilm