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Movie Reviews

Full Time ★★★★



Director: Eric Gravel

Cast: Laure Calamy, Anne Suarez, Geneviève Mnich

Release: May 26, 2023 

As a single mother, Laure Calamy is on top form as she races against time in a whistle-stop 87-minute journey in Full Time to secure an interview. The film’s frenzy mirrors the ongoing daily pressures faced by Julie Roy (Laure Calamy) in her bid to juggle several aspects of life to provide a better life for her family.

Full Time’s premise might sound simple, but its use of hand-held cameras, whip pans, and quick editing style accentuates the chaotic life that Julie endures. It is reminiscent of single-take films such as Victoria Two Days One Night by the Dardenne Brothers with a pressurised tone that builds up the tension and a sense of hopelessness plus claustrophobia for the lead character and the audience alike. The purpose of urgency that permeates the entire runtime might create anxiety for some as the pulsating electronic score perfectly complements this ongoing race and the constant desperation.

Julie’s situation is precarious, and the only moments of calm appear to be whilst she is bathed in a red hue at night before the merciless interruption of her daily alarm for work. Thus, the cycle repeats itself as she faces the challenges of commuting to Paris amid a train strike. Director Eric Gravel, therefore, injects a sense of social realism that prevents this frenetic tale from seeming one-dimensional and gamified as Julie is often seen running á la Lola in Run Lola Run. Gravel’s insight into the unending demands of a single mother presents that no holds barred reality.

The struggles that single parents face to receive that support whilst working full time may be regularly documented. Still, in Full Time, the immersion into Julie’s world will also leave audiences breathless with its relentless pace. Calamy’s performance nonetheless shines amidst a gritty environment, as she maintains that hope for a better opportunity despite the odds. She determines that she exudes in this tour de force performance as Julie, which will undoubtedly keep audiences riveted and routing for Julie to succeed beyond all obstacles.

Unfortunately, Full Time does not have the time to delve into a full character study in a film of this nature. However, that may be preferable as the film conveys the oppressive atmosphere experienced by Julie without the need for excessive dialogue or extended explanations. It is thus a compelling portrait of a loving parent who may choose the wrong actions with a long-term goal in mind. The film examines the constant guilt felt by a working mother as the sole breadwinner as judgement is faced for not providing that investment of time. One may inevitably ask the question about assistance from family and friends. Still, in Julie’s world, even such support seems as precarious as the types of menial jobs she has been required to undertake to survive.

Whilst Full Time might tackle an ongoing crisis for parents that may not receive that state support either by way of childcare or added financial support when alimony is not forthcoming, there is the sense that Gravel still offers elements of positivity in the kindness of strangers towards Julie, which in other films may not have been a helpful solution.

Full Time is a compelling film outlining a perilous situation amplified further by its non-stop action. It is relentless without many moments to pause, an outstanding directional choice from Gravel and will keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Hopefully, films such as Full Time will spotlight the difficulties faced by single working parents to create more supportive environments.

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