Time Out

(L'Emploi du Temps)


Within the first couple of minutes of Time Out, it is abundantly clear something is very wrong. Vincent (Aurelien Recoing, Children's Play, Fidelity) keeps phoning his wife, saying that he is on his way to a meeting or just back from another one, yet he is usually in his car, or in a park doing nothing. He is clearly lying to his wife Muriel (Karin Viard, Children's Play, Battle Cries), his children, and his friends. Vincent has no job, and nobody realizes this. Screenwriters Laurent Cantet (Human Resources, Les Sanguinaires) and Robin Campillo examine a man's sense of self worth in Time Out, an interesting movie otherwise hampered by a glacial pace and a long running time.

Vincent copes by telling more lies. He tells everybody he has a new job working for the United Nations. Then apparently realizing he needs money, Vincent begins telling people he knows of an investment. If they give him large amounts of money, he will act as a middleman and go to a bank that will invest the money in emerging markets. This scheme goes amazingly better than he could ever hope, and many of his friends give him money. Vincent's entire life is a lie. Each additional lie he tells will, in the future make it even harder for him to emerge unscathed.

Part of what makes Time Out exasperating is that the character of Vincent is so hard to read. He has a blank look on his face, and would much rather internalize his feelings than say anything. Director Cantet doesn't let the audience understand why Vincent is doing this until near the end, and many people may be asleep by then. Also exasperating is the fact that he is extremely vague about what specifically he does, yet nobody questions him. One would think that his parents and Muriel would say something, but only Muriel has questions, and these take a long time to surface.

Yet Recoing's lack of emotion works for his character. It makes him infinitely creepier. No one is quite sure what he is thinking of at any time. Each lie he successfully completes both exhilarates and horrifies him. It makes him bold enough to try move on to a larger lie, but causes him to recoil in horror at what he is doing. It's just that he ponders these same questions for long periods of time. There is little background music, little dialogue, or action at times. Vincent seems happy to retreat into his little make-believe world in his head, but he forgets to take the audience with him.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 12 minutes, French with English subtitles, Rated PG-13 for sensuality.

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