NOW ON VOD! My first impression of Véronique Jadin’s comedic thriller, Employee of the Month (L’employée Du Mois), is I’m watching a violent and bloody version of The Office. How does this not inspire you?
Employee of the Month is the story of Inès (Jasmina Douieb), a 17-year employee of the EcoClean company. During her tenure there, the meek yet loyal, Inès has gone as high as the glass ceiling will take her. Now, she desperately needs a raise. But, of course, the economy is in bad shape, and the company doesn’t have the means to bump her pay.
Now the ball starts rolling. Patrick (Peter Van den Begin), her boss, tells her that if she works hard, he’ll fight for a raise next year. Patrick then gives Inès more work. At the same time, the other managers get sushi for lunch while she’s told to stay behind. Specifically, Inès is to oversee a new intern, Melody (Laetitia Mampaka), the daughter of the last female to work at EcoClean.
Frustrated with the situation, Inès confronts Patrick one last time about the raise. Seizing the opportunity, Patrick asks Inès for a “favor.” Just before Inès finds herself in a compromising situation, Melody interrupts, spinning Patrick around and mortally wounding him with a large paperweight to the head. Panic ensues, and Melody decides to help Inès dispose of Patrick’s body.
Before you think Employee of the Month is about to become a thriller about covering up an accidental death, the story quickly turns into satire. Any time a co-worker comes close to figuring out what Inès and Melody are doing, that co-worker is accidentally killed. Soon, the body count rises until the accidents become intentional.
“…Inès confronts Patrick…about the raise. Seizing the opportunity, Patrick asks Inès for a ‘favor’…”
Produced in France, Jadin’s film boasts no name that the typical American would recognize, which helps keep the characters of Inès and Melody as grounded and innocent as possible. The plot becomes this insane game of “how do I get out of this predicament with the fewest casualties?” The fun is in how silly the body count becomes. In other words, I’m not so much hung up on seeing a famous celebrity being funny, but when they’re unknown, there’s a level of authenticity that comes with craziness.
I would guess that writers Véronique Jadin and Nina Vanspranghe are fans of The Office. In addition, there are minor connections to the show, such as Patrick’s love of his “World’s Greatest Boss” coffee mug and a company that is barely on the cusp of relevance. Employee of the Month takes office culture to hilariously absurd and gruesome heights.
The writers also give a satirical touch to themes of equality in the workplace, sexual harassment, and women banding together. For example, there’s a moment when Melody asks Inès for a favor now that she’s used to killing people. The results are hilarious and put a new spin on their relationship leading into the third act. Also, add the fact that the deaths took place at a company that produces environmentally-safe cleaning products.
What really draws me to Employee of the Month is that it does address women’s issues in the workplace while giving it a dark and twisted tone at the same time. I think what will appeal most to audiences and women, in general, is that the humor is not bogged down by the inane political hangups from the United States. It’s feminism without the insanity, just the killing.
"…give a satirical touch to themes of equality in the workplace, sexual harassment, and women banding together."