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Kino on Video presents
Human Resources (1999)

"You're not fired. You can stay. You're too young, too cheap to be unprofitable."
- Franck (Jalil Lespert)

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: January 09, 2009

Stars: Jalil Lespert, Jean-Claude Vallod, Chantal Barre
Director: Laurent Cantent

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:39m:31s
Release Date: April 22, 2008
UPC: 698452206035
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+C-C D-

DVD Review

We’ve had plenty of films about the battle between management and labor in the business world, some aiming to illuminate the conflict via comedy, others by sticking to a more realistic view. Falling on the latter side is Laurent Cantet’s Human Resources, a 1999 film seeing re-release from Kino’s Kimstim Collection. A previous disc was released by Image a few years back.

Franck (Jalil Lespert) is a working class kid whose goal of joining the stratified air of management sees him join the factory where his father, sister, and many friends already work as blue collar employees. When Franck shows up, friction over a government mandated reduction in work hours is sparking between the union and those in charge. Franck’s attempt to work out something that will benefit both sides and earn him some brownie points with management explodes in his face, as management uses his work as a weapon against the union, which may lead to his father (Jean-Claude Vallod) and other older workers being summarily fired.

The film does well in not playing along the clichéd lines one would expect, as Franck mulls over the choice he must make in picking in a side and dealing with his father. Franck’s choice is made difficult by his father’s disinterest in fighting for his own job; he has worked so that his children, especially Franck, could succeed in the world, and Franck will throw all that away by fighting for his father. Franck's showdown with his father at the end is brutal, baring emotional baggage over their strained relationship and the class issues that form part of the heart of the film.

The pace may deter those wishing for more slambang drama, and the moral ambiguity of the choices at hand and the sides fighting allows for no real easy answers. It’s hard to recommend this as a film you’ll want to return to, but the sensitive performances (many by non-professionals) and assured, unfussy direction make this very much worth a look.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Quite why anyone wastes their time releasing non-anamorphic transfers these days is beyond me, given the education of the public on such things, and particularly given that the audience for this type of film will specifically want a quality presentation. It's not found here, with a washed-out, non-anamorphic transfer that lumps burned-in, sometimes hard to read white subtitles on top of things.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchno

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 stereo track is average; it does the job and not much more.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The trailer (sans subtitles) and an info screen about the director sum it up. Eminently missable.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A quiet drama about the moral perils of the business world and class, Human Resources features fine performances and direction and is well worth a look. The disc is mediocre, with a non-anamorphic picture and average sound.


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