Prior to treasures like "un Air De Famille" (1996) or "l'Auberge Espagnole" (2002) and for his very debut movie, Cédric Klapisch chose to plump for the world of work and to illustrate this statement: how to put forward the human dignity of workers in an economical world driven by the laws of supply and demand? The "little nothings" in question represent all the employees in the department store and in spite of its demeaning character, the title of the film has nothing of a downer. Nor its contents. On the contrary, Klapisch will take a basket of employees to describe them in a colorful manner. However, they are likely to be redundant for the department store "les Grandes Galeries" is going to close down if it doesn't deliver profitable results. So, the new manager Mr. Lepetit (Fabrice Luchini) decides to boost business again by highlighting human and social values revolving around communication, friendliness and good mood among the employees and towards the customers. All this to generate a more playful, more laid-back vibe and this manager isn't afraid to go further by inciting his staff to take part collectively in intense psychoanalytic sessions, lessons to properly smile or individual sports like bungee jumping... It's only his first movie but the Klapisch touch is already palpable on the screen. To film these "little nothings" who are individual members of a group, the filmmaker developed a great proximity with them, making himself almost their accomplice. He also handles his camera in a subtle way like this traveling going from Vanessa and then moving high to give a general view of the big, versatile shop. To write his film with Jackie Berroyer, the filmmaker spent days in the same department store to capture a day work of an employee. It's evident on the screen. Nothing is false and a good proportion of the scenes ring true. Klapisch's own approach of the comedy is already there: his film is filled with gags, droll cues which could be models of the art of absurd and nonsense such as: "I don't like relaxing music, it irritates me" and quirky scenes. I relish the one in which a vigilante arrests a young thief and takes him in a room in which another one of his partners is already there and eventually, the two vigilantes bicker themselves instead of punishing the young boy! And some characters have special name. The name of the manager Lepetit means "little" in French. It's a sharp contrast for a man who is broad-minded and vivacious! And Jean-Pierre Darroussin's name is "Domrémy": the link of three musical notes. An adequate name for a seller in a musical instruments shop. If this Klapisch film is of the right bottle, it's because it shelters a formidable weapon: honesty. So, why not testing it? And just like the grand Hitchcockian tradition or like a painter signs his or her work in a corner of the painting, the filmmaker has a cameo to earmark his work. Guess without looking at the cast of this film on this site when Klapisch appears...
A typical French department store: Les Grandes Galeries. All kind of things can be found in there, as well as all kinds of people. Mr Lepetit has just been appointed General Manager of the company.
October 28, 2020