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Stars: Laure Calamy, Anne Suarez, Cyril Guei, Genevieve Mnich

Director: Eric Gravel

'Julie Roy' is a plum role for any actress, and Calamy, who was new to me but has been making films for 20 years, does it proud and then some. With every facial expression (and Calamy has a lot), she absolutely inhabits this character. At 46, she's really too old for the part, but thank goodness for us, she looks nothing like her age, and fits beautifully into the character of a woman harassed by life at every turn.

Julie's life is one non-stop helter-skelter, depicted superbly by director Gravel and his talented editor Mathilde Van Der Moortel. Once a marketing manager, she has beaten the alcoholism which seems to have cost her both career and husband, and now lives with her two children, a seven-year-old girl and hyper-active five-year-old boy, and works in distant Paris as head chambermaid in a posh hotel.

Her ex has missed alimony payments, she's behind on her mortgage, has almost maxed out on her credit cards, and faces impossible journeys to work as France crumbles beneath rail and other transport strikes, to say nothing of riots in the streets. Julie seems to spend half her life hitching lifts (she doesn't have a car) or running hell for leather. She's still often late for work, and doesn't help her cause by risking the sack from manager Sylvie (Suarez) by taking time off to go for job interviews.

In addition, her elderly childminder Mrs Lusigny (Mnich) is acting up, with Mrs L's daughter urging her mother to give the task up, especially as the five-year-old is well-nigh impossible to control. Julie goes after a better-paid job as a market researcher, but doesn't hear back for days, usually an ominous sign.

This is a fast-paced film that does a commendable job of showing us a life on the edge. Probably difficult to find outside arthouse cinemas, you'll find it well worth the effort if you do.

David Quinlan

France 2021. UK Distributor: Be For Films. Colour (unspecified).
88 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 02 Jun 2023