A German company threatens to close one of its factories in France displacing 1100 workers. The workers go on strike and attempt to enter negotiations with the head of the company. As tempers rise and all become desperate, the protesters struggle to maintain their non-violence.
Vincent Lindon plays the leader of the workers with tremendous confidence. He exudes outrage and embodies the immovable object with great authority. Supporting roles are played convincingly though few are offered the time and space to develop as fully as Lindon’s Laurent. The stakes are, however, visibly high.
The film captures the chaos of an angry crowd. Most of the action takes place in tense dialogue sequences in which characters talk over each other and always seem mere moments away from physical conflict. The director, Stéphane Brizé, allows the heat of these moments to linger and build.
The overall tone is one of frustration as there perpetually seems to be so little hope for the workers. Every process and power that should be defending the workers seems helpless compared to the vague notion of “market forces” and “competitiveness”. The result is utterly dehumanising and the eruptions into violence are almost therapeutic as the tension is finally allowed to dissipate, although consequences are never far behind.
En Guerre is a suitably painful thriller which passionately exposes the plight of abused workers and the terrors of modern labour relations.
3.5 / 5