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Philly Film Fest Day Twelve: The Age of The Office

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There are very few movies worth seeing just for one scene (Phantom Menace comes to mind – hate Jar-Jar, love the Darth Maul battle), but Fair Play is one of them. In the second scene, corporate newbie Alexandre plays squash with his boss, Charles. Simple enough. But the way writer/director Lionel Bailliu ratchets up the tension throughout, you'd think it was a lost scene from Glengarry Glen Ross.  It's twenty solid minutes of "oh, no you di'n't!"

To say that one scene makes the movie kind of implies that the rest of the movie is no great shakes, but I wouldn't go that far.  It does, however, get a little repetitive with scene after scene of corporate intrigue played out against some sort of sport or competition (golf, running, canyoneering).  It's a rich metaphor, but a little on-the-nose in execution.  On the other hand, Bailliu does a good job of gradually upping the stakes so the whole opera builds to a pretty satisfying conclusion.

The performances are all top-notch, with  Eric Savin turning in a multi-faceted depiction of Charles, keeping us, and himself, guessing as to just how far he'll go to save his skin.  Benoit Magimel and Jeremie Renier do a great job of trying to outsleaze each other as Jean-Claude and Alexandre, respectively, while Melanie Cotillard shines  as the innocent (but not really) Nicole. And Vincent Cassel's dad Jean-Pierre has a nice turn as the boss of it all.

It's interesting to see how corporate culture keeps coming back in this fest.  In addition to this, Severance and The Boss of It All, you've also got Claude Chabrol's latest, A Comedy of Power, with Isabelle Huppert investigating corrupt CEOs.  Call it The Age of The Office

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