The work diptych
in Laurent Cantet
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This chapter develops an analysis of Cantet’s Ressources humaines (Human Resources) and L’Emploi du temps (Time Out) finding in the two films a mapping of the transition from the old Fordist regime, with its rigidities and protections, to the new, more flexible and apparently freer regime within which we now find ourselves. The chapter shows how, in typical fashion, Cantet deploys melodrama to force the hidden violences of the contemporary world of work into view. It pays particular attention to the shift from the solid walls, heavy machines and durable routines of the old order to the more fluid, lighter and apparently more transparent world of the new. Drawing on accounts of contemporary governance and subjectivities from a range of thinkers (Bauman, Boltanski and Chiapello, Foucault, Lazzarato), it shows the capacity of Cantet’s cinema to develop an astonishingly perceptive account of the new unfreedoms and pathologies and the constraining power of debt.

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