The Measure of a Man (4 stars)

The Measure of a Man

An award-winning Vincent Lindon is at the centre of this powerful age of austerity drama

Vincent Lindon’s rugged looks and emotional reserve have combined to make him the Jean Gabin of modern French cinema. His collaborations with director Stéphane Brizé have used that persona to create portraits of masculinity in crisis. None of them are more heartbreaking than The Measure of a Man, which won Lindon the Best Actor prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

The Measure of a Man stands alongside the Dardenne brothers’ Two Days, One Night and Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake as it explores the human casualties from the age of austerity. Lindon’s Thierry Taugourdeau is an unemployed factory worker struggling to keep his family together a year after being made redundant. His days are spent dutifully attending training sessions provided by the local employment office, and applying for jobs that he is either too old or too qualified to stand a chance of securing. Savings are dwindling and every penny counts, a matter made plain during the negotiations over the sale of a mobile home, where a modest sum becomes a major sticking point. If he is not the family provider then who is he?

Finding a job is not the easy salvation Thierry might have assumed. Working as a security guard he becomes a first-hand witness to the quiet desperation of others. Rules must be applied and thieves apprehended, but how long can anyone compromise their core values when petty injustice happens on a daily basis?

The Measure of a Man is a dour, slow-burning slice of life that gradually turns into a modern morality tale. It is sustained throughout by the depth of feeling in Lindon’s granite-like, hangdog performance – as he steps into the shoes of a man forced to decide what is truly important in his life.

Limited release from Fri 3 Jun.

The Measure of a Man

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • 1h 33min
  • Directed by: Stéphane Brizé
  • Written by: Stéphane Brizé/Olivier Gorce
  • Cast: Vincent Lindon, Karine de Mirbeck, Matthieu Schaller

French film about an unemployed former factory worker making ends meet.