Review: ‘A Model Employee’

A ludicrous French thriller that aims for Hitchcock but falls short of De Palma, "A Model Employee" squanders the promising set-up of high-tech corporate intrigue in favor of increasingly implausible melodrama. Outside the usual territories, chances for this risible misfire are grim.

A ludicrous French thriller that aims for Hitchcock but falls short of De Palma, “A Model Employee” squanders the promising set-up of high-tech corporate intrigue in favor of increasingly implausible melodrama. Outside the usual territories, chances for this risible misfire are grim.

As cranky as his pending divorce has made him, software company president Francois Maurey (Francois Berleand) resists pressure from underling Rolland (Bruno Todeschini) to sell the secret X27 code he knows will make him rich. While driving one night, he nearly hits the beautiful but distraught Florence (Delphine Rollin), who’s fleeing an abusive husband. Florence’s gratitude quickly turns to lust, and though reluctant to break his marriage vows, Francois is soon enamored of the mystery woman. But is the femme fatale playing straight with him? Vet helmer Jacques Otmezguine clearly knows his film noir basics, but fails to assemble them in a whole that rises above the sum of those parts. Berleand strikes the right tone as the gruff but fundamentally decent executive, while Rollin is pleasing to the eye. Tech credits are lush, marred only by a pair of absurdly fake explosions in the last reel.

A Model Employee

France

Production

A Mazel Prods., Carrere Group, ICT Nelka Films, Groupe TSF production. Produced by Nelly Kafsky. Directed, written by Jacques Otmezguine.

Crew

Camera (Kodak color), Alain Marcoen; editor, Jean Dubreil; music, Philippe Rombi; art directors, Yves Brover-Rabinovici, Laure Sorin. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (World Cinema: Reflections of Our Time), Aug. 30, 2002. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Francois Berleand, Delphine Rollin, Nicole Calfan, Bruno Todeschini, Francois Morel, Leslie Phils, Steve Suissa, Annick Blancheteau.
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