More than just ‘Footnotes’

by Joe Jarosz on July 14, 2017

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up]

Leave it to the French to make me describe a movie about shoe factory workers as beautiful.

At a crisp, 85 minutes, Footnotes follows Julie (Pauline Etienne) as she struggles to find work in recession France. She spends her days endlessly applying jobs, until she’s finally offered a stockroom job at a women’s luxury shoe factory. This is the first time we hear the first of many beautifully sung French songs.

A day after being hired though, an announcement is made that the shoe factory may be in the process of closing. Julie must choose between keeping a low profile, and subsequently a job, or to resist and fight back on the picket line.

Along with struggling to whether or not choose to join with striking co-workers, she also met a boy — there’s always a boy in musicals. Samy (Olivier Chantreau) is the hunky delivery driver for the factory. He’s coy about his feelings towards Julie, while also being the bad boy that makes him so dreamy to begin with.

This film reminded me of two very distinct musicals, neither being an American film…Once and The Full Monty. Footnotes takes a page from the Monty book by being a European comedy-drama-musical about the working man…or in this case working woman. Whether direct or indirect, there’s even a slight nod to The Full Monty in one of the songs, as a factory worker suggests getting naked and selling calendars to raise money for the group if they get laid off.

I was reminded of Once because the songs aren’t the big, Broadway spectacles we see in American musicals. When Julie, Samy, or anyone else breaks into song, it feels genuine.

The French language is so beautiful. Even when characters are singing about being laid off or heartbreak, I was just so enamored by the accent. I may watch this movie again without reading the subtitles so I can better take in the culture. I also feel like I could’ve watched this without subtitles and could have followed the story.

Joe Jarosz is a Midwest boy now living in California.

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