Review: La Syndicaliste

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Title: La Sydicaliste
MPA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Jean-Paul Salomé
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Grégory Gadebois, François-Xavier Demaison

What It Is: The film follows the true story of Maureen Kearney (Isabella Huppert),  a trade unionist who becomes a whistleblower to expose the corrupt business dealing at Areva. She receives threatening phone calls from the higher ups, but she ignores them. Her situation becomes severe when she is assaulted and gang raped in her own home by her assailants who are likely part of the enemies she’s fighting against. Her life gets even more complicated when her assault is called into question, and her haunting past is resurfaced. Is she telling the truth or did she make it up?

What We Think: If you’re familiar with the history of this controversy, you know how the story plays out. For those unfamiliar with the true events, the film does a fine job recreating the real-life events. The film is largely held together by a captivating performance by Isabella Huppert. There’s never a dull moment with her, and she definitely does a lot with the material she’s been given; even moments where she doesn’t say a word of dialogue are some of the strongest parts of the film. The film has a strong visual presentation; the cinematography is very subtle in that the film rarely ever calls attention to itself. The dolly shots are done with delicate precision. I’d say the weakest aspect of the film is the musical composition. The score isn’t necessarily bad and is a beautiful piece in its own right (This is thanks to Bruno Coulais, who is responsible for composing the stop motion animated masterpiece, Coraline) but I felt that it was unfitting with the movie. The film is paced well for the most part, but the film drags a little bit towards the end.

Our Grade: B+, The political subplot isn’t as interesting as Maureen dealing with the aftermath of her assault, and I wished the film was a bit more tightly focused on her. I’ll say the film is at its strongest when it’s more focused on Maureen’s struggles. It’s not my favorite film from 2023, but it’s still a solidly crafted film in its own right.

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