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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Laure Calamy plays Julie, a woman struggling to juggle a job and raising two kids. She has split from her partner and decided to move out of Paris to give the kids some fresh air and to avail herself of the slightly cheaper rents. However, this condemns her to the unwelcome cost and pressure of commuting and, given that transport strikes are something of a national pastime in France, she frequently has to navigate endless challenges just to get to her job as a chambermaid in a five star hotel.
Her manager at the hotel, who has befriended Julie over the years, has become impatient with always cutting her some slack. Even though she is sympathetic to Julie’s plight, she has come to the formal warning stage. If Julie is late for work one more time, she will be let go.
Early in the film, we learn that Julie used to be in the corporate sector and her slide into wage labouring represents a kind of downward mobility that is all too familiar in the modern precarious world. Julie has tried to claw her way back ever since and, although she is not enthused in one way, she has decided to have one last crack at getting back into a middle-class job. The struggle to get to a crucial job interview whilst juggling her hotel job and relying on the older woman/child carer back in the village, forms the quest that shapes the film.
This is a simple tale, but the filmmakers manage to make it dramatic whilst economically sketching in what we might think of as the sociological and gender aspects that shape Julie’s circumstances. As the tension mounts around Julie’s desperate last bid, we are fully on her side, hoping that she will make it before they call full time.