Movie Reviews
11:00 am
Sat May 18, 2002

Time Out

Far from America and the easy resolutions of disaffected workers, "Time Out" is a respectful treatise on the wages of anomie and lies...

In Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," Marlow says there is "a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies." The French film "Time Out" is about Vincent, who lies by claiming to be employed while he is not and carrying this lie to an extreme that endangers his family and friends.

For most of the film, the stench of the lie settles into every corner, much as the guilt in the recent Richard Gere film, "Unfaithful," eventually claims all possible victims, even children. Unlike the Michael Douglas "Falling Down," brutality is not necessary for Europeans to reveal the alienation of modern employment and unemployment.

Similar to "Unfaithful," director Laurent Cantet's "Time Out" (he first directed "Human Resources," about a young man who must fire his own father) is slowly paced so we can linger in the protagonist's mind as his unemployment and his larcenous scheme to get money become his real job. The central motif of being lost is highlighted by his love of lonely driving and a stunning snow squall in which he seems to lose his wife. Indeed he is on the brink of losing everything, even his own life, in a fulfillment of Conrad's assessment. Jocelyn Pook's beautiful but somber chamber music lends the right foreboding tone.

It is interesting to compare where lies lead for Marlow and Vincent; both experience similar effects. Although I was perplexed at the facile ending, I at the least was forced to think about what we can do to deal with asocial citizens like Vincent.

Far from America and the easy resolutions of disaffected workers, "Time Out" is a respectful treatise on the wages of anomie and lies.