French Tech (Les 2 Alfred) (12)      French Film Festival

This year’s French Film Festival has provided a number of gems, and this charming film from director Bruno Podalydes is one of the most enjoyable yet. A tale of the attempts of two characters struggling to get to grips with a world of fast moving technology that regularly seems about to overwhelm them is an absolute delight.

Alexandre (Denis Podalydes, brother of the director) is unemployed and separated from his wife. He has two months, while she is at sea aboard a nuclear submarine, to get himself together and prove himself capable of looking after their two small children and finding a new job.

He meets Arcimboldo (played by Director Bruno Podalydes) who is keeping afloat doing odd jobs and is in need of a place to stay. This proves to be fortuitous when Alexandre is hired by start-up company The Box. For, after a somewhat bizarre interview, he is hired on a trial basis, only to find he has to be on call 24/7. And they have a “no children” rule for all staff. Desperate for work, Alexandre declares himself to be childless.

So, when Alexandre is rushing around with his strict and somewhat curt boss Severine (Sandrine Kiberlain), Arcimboldo babysits the children. On one occasion, even taking them with him while he fills in as a night security guard at a warehouse. But faced with numerous team building sessions and a constant stream of zoom meetings and conference calls, it’s only a matter of time before his secret is revealed.

All this takes place to a background of functioning and non-functioning technology –driverless cars and drones (lots of drones!) feature heavily throughout. It is the human relationships that Podalydes brings to the fore, though, and he does this in a sweet and tender way without tipping over into sentimentality.

Will Alexandre’s role as a father be exposed before he and Severine secure a contract to promote his home town (which turns out to be the reason The Box hired him), and even if they do, will he get to keep his job? Well, I’m not one for giving away spoilers – this film is a rewarding experience that you should see for yourself. Watched on a cold, wet winter’s night it’s guaranteed to lift your spirits. (An added plus is a track from Edinburgh’s own Banjo Lounge 4 on the soundtrack!)

Jim Welsh

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