Corporate Review – French Thriller Captures Murky Ethics of Global Business World

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Corporate, showcased at the recent French Film Festival, presents the universal story of Darwinian's corporate jungle, of cloudy corporate ethics and sacrifice of the employee is acceptable only if the trail doesn't lead back to the boardroom.

Directed and co-written by newcomer Nicolas Silhol, Corporate stars Lambert Wilson, Celine Sallette, Stephane De Groodt, Violaine Fumeau and Alice de Lencquesaing and was written by Sihol and Nicolas Fleurau.

Corporate, set in Paris, begins in any conglomerate anywhere where the boardroom is the pursuit and climbing the corporate ladder the track to earning the promotion that gets you the keys.

In this company, we met Emilie Tesson-Hanson, played by Celine Sallette, the Human Resources Manager, a young, sophisticated, educated executive, with a competitive wardrobe, who is prepared to take over the territory and tow the company line as directed without concern.

On this day, she is besieged by phone calls, inundated by the concern of a certain older employee, who the company is forcing out. A recent secret cost cutting measure put together by the ruthless Stephane Froncart, played by Lambert Wilson, by passes the usual by-outs and early retirement offerings for the force out, a tactic common from Wall Street to the La Defense to London's Lombard Street, in any corporation anywhere where the dictates and employment depends on being the company man.

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For Emilie who has managed to secure a managerial role, with clear and obvious plans to continue her trajectory, she, like a good solider, follows the force out to the letter: take anyway employee privilege, demote office to less desirable position and relocate again to a place where the cube is cut to include the company copy machine.

When these tactics still don't bring out the desired effect as the employee applies for a transfer; which he is refused and suddenly his length of service is reduced to yesterday's garbage with the HR Manager prepared to take it out if necessary.

During lunch, he attempts to reach out to her, outside hoping for a different attitude outside the watchful eye of corporate hierarchy, unfortunately she spells it out. And finally, our every older employee, with a history of dedicated service, is finished.

The contemporary corporate world with its indiscernible and unethical practices have claimed another victim leaving them gravely injured and deeply wounded by the side of the road while they move on without thought or concern.

Unfortunately for Emilie life is fragile and the neatly pre-packaged termination she had planned simply doesn't go as she thought and during the afternoon a horrible sound reverberates through the building, the mega boom-thump, an unknown sound, of someone who decides if the company that took my life may as well clean it up and jumps landing outside the HR office in the courtyard.

While not the end Froncart and the Board has envisioned. It will do. The suicide brings an investigation and an internal corporate investigation. We meet Marie Borrel, played by Violaine Fumeau, as she becomes the nemesis to Emilie's tenure, as in Darwin's theory only the strong survive and sacrifice is acceptable even if it is outside the intended plan.

Corporate is a solid portrayal on illegal company practices, the secretive sacrifices which by pass all legal frameworks companies are obligated to follow.

The talented ensemble cast led by Lambert Wilson, who is known to American audiences starring recently in 5 to 7, opposite the late Anton Yelchin and Berenice Marlohe, and is very well known throughout the world cinema. He delivers here also as the cold, ethically challenged looking to secure a promotion at all costs.

Celine Sallette whom American audiences may not know, gives a solid performance and the hunter and then hunted Human Resources Manager. She is cool, corporate, with a killer wardrobe and captures the young, urban, accomplished professional effortlessly.

The backstory provides the balance for her has her husband is job searching and she offers to "interview" him which provides a searing indictment, on the employment market also. Are women hired as the scapegoat to a larger plan? The husband, out of work, feels challenged by her success, and as she balances the corporate climb, the home is a delicate teetering seesaw.

Corporate recently held its North American premier at COLCOA French Film Festival, and is the first feature for Nicolas Silhol. As the child of a business school executive who consults in Human Resources, Silhol, was deeply affected by the Telecom suicide scandal and developed the screenplay using a single incident as the starting point for a deeper look, pulling back the layers of the pristine glass walled and windowed high rises to revel a central theme: Is humanity possible in the corporate world or is the shark east shark, Darwinian theory, accurate?

Corporate is masterfully presented dramatic thriller. A precarious walk through the buried secrets and littered remains hidden from view in any conglomerate anywhere.

A mystery, the audience will be held as those who hunt humans, playing the most dangerous game, in the corporate world are exposed as plans are never quite as neat as one planned.

Corporate is very good. See it if you have the chance. In French with English subtitles.  

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