Time Out is as timely and wrenching a film as you'll find anywhere in these dog days of corporate downsizing. Vincent (the superbly subtle French stage actor Aurelien Recoing, in his first major film role) is deemed unnecessary after eleven years as a company drone. It's a common story. What's uncommon in this psychological spellbinder from writer-director Laurent Cantet (Human Resources) is that Vincent doesn't tell anyone — not his wife, Muriel (an outstanding Karen Viard), his parents, his three children or his friends. Instead, Vincent pretends to go to work each day until he invents a new job for himself as a United Nations envoy who takes frequent trips to Geneva. The film is inspired by the true story of a French executive who slaughtered his family when his ruse was discovered. Cantet, who on the basis of only two films is already a world-class talent, does something far more daring. He eighty-sixes the murder angle to get inside the head of a man who is liberated by deception, a work slave who felt more satisfaction on his languorous drive to work than in the dull job he faced when he got there. The career Vincent fabricates, helping third-world countries, provides a fulfillment, however delusional, he has never known. His deception, even when it involves cheating friends, makes him come alive. And when that fulfillment is threatened in an ironic happy ending, you truly do feel Vincent's pain. Recoing gives a performance that won't soon be forgotten. Neither will Time Out. It's a great movie.
From The Archives Issue 336: February 5, 1981