L’EMPLOYEE DU MOIS (Employee of the Month)(Belgium 2021) ***
Directed by Veronique Jadin
The film’s setting is the office of a company selling cleaners called EcoCleanPro. Middle-aged Ines (Jasmine Douieb), the protagonist and staff at the company, is reliable and eager to please and is always at the beck and call of her boss Patrick.Ines is tasked with mentoring young trainee Melody (Laetitia Mampaka) - whose mother used to work at the company - and she embraces her mentoring role to the sarcastic, closed-off Melody. However, while Ines treats her work seriously, her male co-workers and her boss Patrick (Peter Van den Begin) consistently belittle her, ordering her to do menial tasks.With her patience running out, Ines meets with Patrick to ask him for a raise, and he proceeds to not only disparage her request, but also grab her violently and assault her. Ines pushes him away as Melody walks into the office, and an accidental violent incident is committed. Melody is now complicit in Ines’ crime, and both women must decide how to cover their tracks and clean up their mess
The film clearly has an important message to bring across to employers of both big and small companies. In the case of the film and of many companies in existence as well, the right idea has already been put forward for equal pay for the female staff and workers. However, management just goes through the motions. In the film, the corporate lady puts the responsibility for equal pay to Ines’s boss, Patrick who dismisses it with the reason of insufficient resources. Yet other males in the company have got raises. Lewd unacceptable behaviour (such as the sketching of male organs on Ines’s sketch pad during a meeting) is also dismissed as acceptable humour in the company. The important message of pay equity is not compromised by its delivery with humour in her film.
Director Jadin ups the ante with the accidental murder of Patrick as perfumed by Meld and Ines. This is the case where the females stick together in an otherwise male world. This is the point where director Jadin has a bit too much on the plate to handle with the film faltering with the laughs lessening. The film’s best moments are during the first third.
Director Jadin has a master’s degree in Languages and Literature and has worked in a company before diversifying into film directing. Her first short film, EN FANFARE, was shown at about sixty festivals and received the Grand JuryAward and the interpretation award for Tsilla Chelton at the Brussels Short Film Festival, as well as the award for best short film at the Namur IFF. EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH is her first feature length film. She is clearly a director to watch for.
L’EMPLOYEE DU MOIS is a small little film with a big message that is delivered through humour and with the added entertainment of an accident that has to be covered up. From Belgium in French and a little English.
The film is available via VOD and DVD on May the 12th.