Visually spare, leisurely in pace, wordy and featuring an eclectic, occasionally jarring soundtrack, this French corporate thriller is demanding and rewarding in equal measure. Adapted from François Emmanuel’s novel La Question Humaine by writing-directing team Nicolas Klotz and Elisabeth Perceval, it stars Mathieu Amalric as the psychologist of a German-French petrochemical company who’s asked to discretely assess the mental state of the Paris office’s CEO (played by Michael Lonsdale).
As Almaric’s emotionally reticent Simon conducts his covert investigation, the effects of it begin to take their toll on him, partly because his subject appears to be the victim of a corporate coup and partly because of the disturbing historical links he uncovers between his firm and the Nazis during the last years of World War II.
The chilling analogy the film makes between modern capitalism and 19th century fascism is an intriguing one, and Klotz and Perceval underscore it throughout in various subtle ways, such as how language is employed to dehumanise individuals. It’s a beautifully executed and horribly convincing film.
Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 16 May.