We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
The stories told by classic French cinema tend to transpire during Gallic society’s abundant downtime: at a cafe, on the beach, or in the bed of somebody else’s spouse. It’s only recently that French (and Belgian) filmmakers have discovered everyday work, but they’ve seized the subject with unexpected intensity. Like Laurent Cantet’s Human Resources, which preceded it by a few years, Jean-Marc Moutout’s 2003 Work Hard, Play Hard is the story of a man in the hapless middle: Young management trainee Philippe is assigned to audit a company and soon realizes that this is no academic assignment. The firm is about to be purchased, and Philippe’s assessment will be used to thin the ranks after the takeover is completed. While the employees’ jobs are at risk, for Philippe it’s his soul that’s at stake; it’s a no-win situation that makes the film a work of realism. The film shows at 8 p.m. at the Avalon Theater, 5612 Connecticut Ave. NW. $9.75. (202) 966-6000. (Mark Jenkins)