Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 24th September 2003
Distributed by: Lesiure Time
Production compaines: Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, B.C. Films, Canal+, Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC)
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 8
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Director: Siegrid Alnoy
Producer: Béatrice Caufman
Screenwriter: Siegrid Alnoy, Jérôme Beaujour, François Favrat
Starring: Sasha Andres as Christine Blanc, Pierre-Félix Gravière as Sébastien, Eric Caravaca as Eric, Catherine Mouchet as Patricia, Daniel Ceccaldi as le père, Geneviève Mnich as la mère, Jacques Spiesser as Danjard, Pascal Cervo as policier accueil, Dominique Valadié as Marie-Noëlle, la voisine, Thomas Chabrol as le directeur de Promocash
She's One of Us' international title, For She's a Jolly Good Fellow, might have added a touch of wry irony to this ponderous pseudo-thriller. As it stands, however, Alnoy's formalized film plods along with an unwarranted air of profundity. Christine, her last name (Blanc) hinting at her overwhelming vacuity, shuffles wide-eyed from one high-rise office job to another, failing at each to make an impact on her disinterested colleagues. Determined to make nice-nice with someone, she latches onto her temp agency boss Patricia (Catherine Mouchet), lying about a shared affinity for collectible glass owls and repeating snippets of conversation she's overheard at the grocery store. For reasons unknown, Patricia begins to spend her free time with Christine, but things go haywire when, in a fit of embarrassed rage while at a local swimming pool, Catherine lethally lashes out at her new friend.
Having now committed a (rather disturbing) crime, Christine is reborn as a confident, popular, and ruthless businesswoman, acquiring a live-in boyfriend and a full-time job where her subordinates fear her. Her transformation, however, doesn't alter the empty expression - a look of bemused nothingness that Alnoy doggedly shoots in close-up with clinical fascination - that's permanently etched on her face, nor the fact that the film's set-up is so contrived and artificial that it nearly howls with pretentiousness. A low, steady hum of electronic noise, frequently punctuated by sharp noises, follows Christine as she visits menacing locales of consumerism like the supermarket and the mall (where she enjoys placidly sitting amidst the rush of busy shoppers). But though the film's icily composed and detached mise-en-scène contains an unsubtle critique of materialism and market capitalism, Christine's beef against her callous environment and compatriots is so ill-defined that the film eventually becomes more maddening than unsettling.
As Christine ingratiates herself into the society that had previously rejected her - "I'm like everyone else now," she tells Degas (Carlo Brandt), the cop hot on her trail for Patricia's death - she becomes a nasty, vicious woman who (likely intentionally) orchestrates the suicide of her affable work associate. She's One of Us seems to make the case that becoming a participating member of the repulsive modern world is akin to (or somehow necessitates a form of) murder, and thus the film's optimistic ending finds Christine making a clean break from her not-so-improved life. To be happy, people must not be one of "us" (i.e. the lemmings who mindlessly accept routine lives) but rather unique, non-conforming individuals who recognize that toeing the company line is a useless, soul-crushing dead-end. On the other hand, perhaps Alnoy is saying that Christine becomes one of "us" - namely, the iconoclastic rebels like herself who don't kowtow to perceived norms - by rejecting 21st century society. Either way, if audience members are able to refrain from scoffing at the ludicrousness of such nebulous discontent, their tolerance for meandering, second-rate existential hogwash is greater than mine.
Aka Elle est des nôtres.