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September 2002                                        SITE MAP   SEARCH
Night Shift
cast: Gerald Laroche, Marc Barbe, Luce Mouchel, Bastien Leroy, and Bernard Ballet

director: Philippe Le Guay

93 minutes (15) 2001
widescreen ratio 16:9
Tartan DVD Region '0' retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Christopher Geary
After movies about a psycho neighbour (Consenting Adults, 1992), a homicidal nanny (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, 1992), a loony tenant (Pacific Heights, 1990), obsessive spouse (Sleeping With The Enemy, 1991), murderous parent (Benefit Of The Doubt, 1993), crazy cop (Unlawful Entry, 1992), and vengeful ex-convict (Cape Fear, 1991), here is a story about a nutty workmate! Not that I intend to pigeonhole this fine dramatic thriller into the familiar stalker subgenre where 'hell is other people' - and the more you let them into your life, the worse your situation gets - because Night Shift (aka: Trois Huit) is an unassuming yet highly entertaining foreign film that happily avoids many of the silly clichés and much of the overblown hysteria of its generically 'Hollywood' cousins.
   Amiable but naive family man, Pierre (Gerald Laroche), starts working nights at the local bottle-making plant, to get extra money for his new house-building project, and does his best to fit in with the crews attending the oil-fired ovens and mechanised production line. However, the factory's resident practical joker, Fred (Marc Barbe), takes an instant dislike to him and begins an escalating feud that can only be settled with life-threatening violence.
   Night Shift is compelling as drama because of its interesting, un-stereotypical characters. Although there's undeniably something of 'the coward of the county' in Pierre, his short temperedness is fuelled by embarrassments and injured pride. Fred is a charismatic bully whose life is dominated by ambitious failure (his wife has left him already, and he doesn't get the promotion he craves), but his insults at the expense of Pierre are partly overcompensation for his life as a surly loner. And yet there are further complications to the oppositional nature of these men, as Fred easily befriends Pierre's teenage son, when the boy's father cannot adjust to the internal pressures of family life, especially the loss of authority.
   In the end, as tensions run high in this study of social problems and misguided testosterone, Pierre suffers a terrible 'accident' at the factory, and fighting breaks out, but the slightly unsettling aftermath and surprisingly open-ended resolution is just as unpredictable (and therefore as true to real life!) as the motivations and decisions of the characters.
   DVD extras: anamorphic widescreen transfer with Dolby digital sound (French with English subtitles), star and director filmographies, original theatrical trailer, film notes by Trevor Johnston, plus World Cinema promo trailers reel.