The Measure of a Man (La Loi du Marche) never takes its eye off of Thierry. A machinist who was laid off almost two years ago, Thierry (Vincent Lindon) is struggling on several fronts: In his 50s, he doesn’t have the technical skills to compete in the modern job market, and he desperately needs to find work to help pay for special education for his teen son (Matthieu Schaller), who has developmental issues. This French drama’s opening scenes are a series of real-time humiliations for Thierry as he looks for a loan, has an unsuccessful interview over Skype and stumbles through dancing lessons with his loving wife (Karine De Mirbeck).
A defiantly straightforward, realistic film about the way your psyche gets pummeled once you no longer fit into society. Without a job, the blue-collar Thierry must feel marooned—though he never comes out and says it. He doesn’t need to: As played by Lindon, Thierry is a suffer-silently kind of man, the sort who’s into finding solutions, not sitting around talking about his feelings.
There’s something richer and more provocative going on beneath the surface of The Measure of a Man. The English title is a giveaway about Brizé’s purpose. In its own modest way, the film is not just about how we judge a man—by his work, by his ability to provide—but also how men judge themselves using similar criteria.