Directed by: Véronique Jadin
Distributed by: TBD
Written by Anna Harrison
Inès (Jasmina Douieb) deserves a raise. As legal consultant and de facto secretary of EcoCleanPro, she has been diligently following the wishes of her boss, Patrick (Peter Van Den Begin), for more than a decade, and though she smarts at the casual misogyny of her coworkers, Inès keeps her head down and rolls with the punches. Only when new intern Melody (Laetitia Mampaka) comes along and points out this disparity does Inès begin to consider what she’s owed, yet when Inès goes to demand better treatment from Patrick, a not-entirely-unfortunate accident suddenly alters the office dynamics forever. As Inès and Melody band together to try and cover up the mess, what was up until this point a droller, more cynical (it’s European, after all) version of “The Office” (a lazy comparison, but not entirely untrue) kicks into, if not high gear, then at least a different one.
The movie is strongest when going into proto-slasher mode as Inès enacts her revenge against her coworkers, letting the film shuck off some of its workplace comedy trappings and get a little funky (and surprisingly gory at times). Douieb and Mampaka provide strong enough performances to anchor all of the switching genres in this movie, and even amidst such bloody circumstances, it’s hard not to laugh when Douieb clearly takes such ghoulish glee in Inès’ rampage, a rampage made thornier when the police come—not the real police, mind you, but the finance police, come to check if Patrick has been mismanaging his company.
“Employee of the Month” doesn’t have anything radical to say about gender dynamics in the workforce, but what it does discuss it does so with nuance and a strong dose of cynical enjoyment. It’s not only the men who put down Inès—other women adopt that “alpha male” mindset as well, sneering at Inès for lacking a backbone, and Inès in turn initially refuses to believe Melody was raped by a teacher, thinking that it would be hard for a girl as large as her to be forced into anything. “If it’s rape every time we don’t want it, then everybody… then we all got…,” Inès mumbles, and then it hits her. It’s a testament to Douieb and Mampaka that they can balance the comedic moments with ones like this.
Unfortunately, even with the strong performances and moments of fun, “Employee of the Month” does not entirely live up to the accolades of its title. There have been other feminist revenge stories done better, but there have also been other feminist revenge stories done more poorly; at 70 minutes, “Employee of the Month” feels more like a prolonged sketch than anything, but it’s elevated by moments of fun and moments of intelligence. If you have an hour to spare, there are worse ways to do it.
“Employee of the Month” was screened as part of the 2022 edition of the Tribeca Film Festival.
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