Review by Camden Ferrell
Full Time is a French drama movie that had its premiere at the 2021 Venice Film Festival where it won the Venice Horizons Award for Best Director and Best Actress. Since then, it has played countless festivals around the world and is set for a U.S. release this weekend. Led by a strong performance from Laure Calamy, this movie tells a simple yet compelling story about one mother against the backdrop of bigger and more timely issues.
Julie is a single mother, raising two young children. She wakes them up early every morning and drops them off with a family friend as she catches the early train to work as a maid at a luxurious hotel. Barely able to pay her bills and support her family, she gets the opportunity to interview for a more desirable job. This job would give her the opportunity to support her kids and give them a better life. However, as she tries to navigate her current job, her prospective job, and her kids, she finds her situation is made all the more difficult by a national transit strike.
Written and directed by Eric Gavel, this script is minimal in its setup and plot, but that allows for the audience to focus on Julie as a character more. While her frustrations with her current situation and the country’s transportation problems are compelling and add layers of suspense to the story, more than anything, this is a story about one woman. It’s not so much a story about what she does but why she does them. It’s simple yet endlessly endearing, and it’s a case study in less being more in terms of screenwriting.
Laure Calamy leads the film as Julie, and she is a perfect fit for this role. She has proven herself to be a charismatic actor who can handle drama and emotion very well. She has an inviting screen presence which allows the viewer to empathize more and feel her frustration. She compels the audience to be invested in her constant problems and revel in her small victories. The supporting cast is decent, but they really aren’t given much to do. The entire burden of the movie almost falls entirely on Calamy as a performer.
The movie briefly takes notice of the national issues that affect our protagonist, but it never is the focus of the movie. It’s conscious of the struggles workers face, but the movie isn’t interested in making some grand political statement but rather examining the effect it has on a single woman over the course of an imperative few days. It’s large scope and small focus is what makes this such an interesting movie. It may not be perfect, and it may have some slower moments, but it’s captivating to join Julie on her quest for a better life.
Full Time is a great sophomore feature from Gravel and another showcase for Calamy’s charming talents. It’s minimal, but it will resonate with most audiences as Calamy delivers a convincing lead performance that propels the movie through its brief run time.
Full Time is in theaters February 3.