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Review / “La syndicaliste” (2022) by Jean-Paul Salomé


Jean-Paul Salomé’s trade unionist is released in cinemas on March 1, 2023. The film returns to the Areva state affair carried by whistleblower Maureen Kearney, played on screen by Isabelle Huppert. Critics and reviews of the film discovered at the 2022 Royan Society Film Festival.


One morning, Maureen Kearney (Isabelle Huppert) is violently assaulted in her home. She was working on a sensitive file in the French nuclear sector and was under violent political pressure. The investigators find no trace of the attackers… is she the victim or guilty of false denunciation?

The trade unionist : a politico-judicial thriller

While France had been preparing for a difficult energy winter given the country’s dependence on foreign industry, the film adaptation of the true story of the whistleblower comes at the right time. Maureen Kearney. It denounced a decade earlier the catastrophic consequences of the scandalous maneuvers of Henri Proglio at the head of EDF to sell off French energy independence to the detriment of thousands of jobs in an uninhibited ultra neoliberal logic.

The real story documented from the investigative reporter’s investigation Caroline Michel Aguirre served as the basis for the screenplay co-written by the director and Fadette Drouardexpert in screenplay dramaturgy (cf. Memory Box, Papicha, Patients). The retrospective look at the history of contemporary France is at the heart of the plot of this politico-judicial thriller where the names of the real protagonists have been preserved.

La Syndicalist film review review 2
©Guy Ferrandis – The Film Office

A tribute to a heroic figure

However, Jean-Paul Salome orients its narrative towards the homage to a heroic female figure of resilience as a whistleblower. Thus, the first descriptive part, which is closer to the cinema of the denunciation of the economic-political cogs marked by the influences of both the cinema of Stephane Brize and notable journalistic investigations by Denis Robert, gives way to an intimate and psychological portrait of a woman where the doubt as to her innocence is voluntarily staged during the investigation Thus, the film, although documented, then loses rhythm after a beginning hectic.

Despite everything, it follows with a sometimes awkward editing a subtle denunciation of the violence of sexist prejudices both in the biased police investigation, and the conviction of the victim’s own lawyer as a woman, not to mention the various gynecological violence. . This second part in the form of a long and trying way of the cross proves to be relevant in its denunciation of patriarchal violence even if we lose at the same time the description of a nauseating political and economic power.

The critical trade unionist photo review 3
©Guy Ferrandis – The Film Office

Our opinion ?

A film file generally faithful to the journalistic investigation and a point of view of the director carried by the female heroization of a bearer of alert whose political vocation is illustrated by an independence of spirit protected from the middle of an elite endogamous social.

The actors and actresses of the film around a brilliant casting choice except François-Xavier Demaison underemployed, also play their character with conviction and depth in the service of the plot and a putting into perspective of the historical choices of yesterday weighing all their weight on today’s reality.

This article is brought to you by columnist Cédric Lépine.

Learn more:

  • Release date France: 01/03/2023
  • Distribution France: The pact

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