Human Resources (Ressources Humaines)

Director: Laurent Cantet
Screenwriters: Laurent Cantet, Gilles Marchand

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


A heart-wrenchingly humanistic drama that transcends its immediate milieu, Human Resources was the deserving recipient of the prestigious New Director’s Award at the 1999 San Sebastian Film Festival.
Recalling British social realist Ken Loach with his lean, naturalistic style and complex treatment of simple themes, Laurent Cantet has crafted an exceptionally tender illumination of class struggle and the complicated relationship between economics and social responsibility. A young, business-school graduate returns to his industrial hometown to take an internship at the metalwork plant that has employed his father as an assembly worker for thirty years. Arriving in the midst of a heated debate over the introduction of a thirty-five-hour work week, the cocky but naive Franck shocks his superiors when he canvasses the workers for their input. When management manipulates his findings to justify a series of layoffs, Franck resorts to industrial sabotage, risking his job to save face before his working-class family. In the film’s heartbreaking climax, father and son reunite, their loss of idealism accompanied by a clear acceptance of where they come from and to whom they owe allegiance. Though stark, Human Resources has a cumulative power and, with its socially conscious narrative, a searing potency. Cantet’s clear-sighted direction of a flawless cast (all nonprofessional with the exception of Jalil Lespert) avoids pat answers and stereotyped characterizations. In the complete absence of melodrama and affectation, the film makes its own modest way, quietly emotional and desperately compassionate.

— Rebecca Yeldham

Screening Details

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