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La Syndicaliste/The Sitting Duck


Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Gregory Gadebois, Marina Fois, Yvan Attal, Mara Taquin, Alexandra Maria Lara

Director: Jean-Paul Salome

Although the source material in this true-life drama is riveting and disturbing, the treatment of it, despite Isabelle Huppert's razor-sharp performance as the central character, is often hard going.

She plays the Irish-born Maureen Kearney, board member and union organiser for the 50,000 employees of Areva, a national French power company, who, in 2012, sees her friend Anne (Fois) pushed aside as company CEO in favour of the trenchant Luc Oursel (horridly well played by Attal), who hates Maureen and her work.

She soon gets wise to the fact that Oursel is making a secret deal with the Chinese to sell them the company's nuclear technology sector. As a whistle blower, she finds herself victimised, shunned, threatened and finally tortured and raped (with the hilt of a knife) in her own home.

When the police investigate, Maureen finds her history of psychiatric problems, and obsessive love of crime novels both work against her; the police doubt her story and finally reject it, arresting her instead.

While Huppert and Gadebois (quietly effective) build up a very real portrait of a loving and supportive marriage - he's the glue that holds her together - the film is a bit overlong, very slow-moving at times, and quite difficult, at least for UK audiences, to get involved with.

David Quinlan

France 2022. UK Distributor: Modern Films . Colour (unspecified).
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

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

Review date: 01 Jul 2023