by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent
Damien Chazelle should be thrilled that his movie LA LA LAND has joined the serious ranks of American films that have opened up global audiences to a renewed appreciation of singing and dancing films. The proof? French film FOOTNOTES, originally titled “Sur Quel Pied Danser,” that “opens” on VOD, Tues. Sept. 19. Although the press notes assure all that its inspiration comes from the movies of Jacques Demy and Stanley Donen of “Singing in The Rain” fame, you’ll be tempted to add Chazelle to what influenced this quirky movie.
FOOTNOTES was actually made before LA LA LAND, although without the smash success of Chazelle’s movie, this one would have a hard time finding an audience. Even harder since this footwear all-singing, all-dancing saga is a message movie.
What’s the message? FOOTNOTES is so floaty and campy, you’ll have to see it yourself, but basically it’s about job security in the age of outsourcing.
That and the usual “don’t hate your life, follow your dreams.”
But woven in here is a power similar to LA LA LAND’s ability to elevate ordinary lives into something extraordinary. Except, since this is coming out of France, the Socialist sleight of hand swaps Tinseltown for shoe business with Pauline Etienne as Julie, our fleet-footed heroine.
She’s not Emma Stone, but she has an authentic off-center, human (non-actory) quality in common with her American counterpart.
The way Monument Releasing describes this film is priceless because it puts a glossy spin on essentially a factory worker walk-out that would only be a drama in America.
“Julie (is) a young woman struggling to make ends meet in France’s radically changing economy. Living out of a backpack, Julie spends her days jumping from job to job until she’s finally offered a temporary stockroom position at a women’s luxury shoe factory. After making friends with the boss’s spunky receptionist Sophie and the ever-charming factory truck driver Samy, Julie thinks the hard times are behind her. But Julie’s dreams of stability collapse when management threatens to close down the factory. As her intrepid group of female colleagues get together to go on strike, Samy and the other truck drivers decide to side with the company’s scheming CEO. Julie must choose whether to keep a low profile (and a shot at permanent employment) or to resist and fight back on the picket line.”
There’s major shoe porn throughout this whole protest-driven, fair-employment plot. Opera pumps, mules, shiny flats, slip-ons, skids, sneakers, loafers, stilettoes, made of nubuck, crocodile, suede, patent leather, you name it. Even when the picketers shack up in tents, they vow to solve their problems in magical red shoes, hand-made women’s oxfords. Yet, it’s about a labor dispute whereby all these workers will be replaced by their cheaper Chinese counterparts. A global message really, with hot relevancy and a Kali, the many-armed Indian goddess, look to the official poster.
But this isn’t NORMA RAE, the 1979 Sally Field starrer where she fights for her rights, nor is it a labor party anthem. It’s kind of a coming-of-age story through the lens of a Chazelle sensibility, a worldview that underscores how everyday life is our life, and how even being stuck in a wrong job or on a picket line or in a life rut is really the exciting plot of our lives. Add a little singing and carefully choreographed sashaying in street clothes — and you’re in a post-Studio Musical, musical.
As this movie foreshadows LA LA LAND, it also plays with its own ending in the unresolved-resolve. Without giving FOOTNOTES away, it’s a movie to watch on many different levels. It’s a diversion, and a parallel universe escape hatch from work where labor disputes can even have a melody written for the strife.
Watch FOOTNOTES Sept. 19 on most major platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.
Catch a Glimpse in Advance…
MONUMENT RELEASING PRESENTS
FOOTNOTES Helmer & Cast
Directed by: Paul Calori and Kostia Testut
Starring: Pauline Etienne, Olivier Chantreau, François Morel, Loïc Corbery and Julie Victor
Official Selection of Palm Springs International Film Festival, Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, Filmfest DC and many more; visit the French Allocine site here.
Opens on VOD Nationwide on Tuesday, Sept. 19 on all major platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.
France, 85 Minutes, In French with English Subtitles
# # #