Berkreviews Tribeca 2022 @home – Employee of the Month (2022)

Director ​​Veronique Jadin’s Employee of the Month (2022) is a dark workplace comedy with some timely social commentary. Ines (Jasmina Douieb) wears many hats for EcoCleanPro – and has added a new one, being the mentor for the new intern, Melody (Laetitia Mampaka). After a meeting about equal pay and their annual evaluations is pending, Ines decides it is time she is paid what she deserves.  Her boss, Patrick (Peter Van den Begin), is quick to dismiss her requests, while still expecting her to do the same jobs and menial tasks asked of her.  However, Ines has finally started to have enough of being unappreciated. Determined, she tries to ask once again -but this time, things get a little out of control, and a violent accident threatens Ines and Melody’s freedom. The two pair up, and things comedically spiral further out of control. 

Douieb does a terrific job with the little character elements this role calls for. From the moment Ines walks into the office at the beginning of the film, you get the sense of pride she takes in her job. She is very skilled at what she does, but the space and her placement in it tell much about her role in the company: she cares for it more than it cares for her. Therein lies plenty of room for the social commentary that Jadin and her writing partner, Nina Vanspranghe, managed to include in this dark comedy. The misogyny directed primarily at Ines from her co-workers is explored, and the desperation for simply being treated fairly, Ines feels, is easy to empathize with. 

Mampaka’s character is also pretty fully realized – immediately. Melody walks into the internship on the phone, already apprehensive about her placement here. We learn quickly that her mother was recently fired from the office due to “budget” cuts. While she feels sorry for Ines, the juxtaposition of their situations is also what will eventually bond them together. Ines’s life is Melody’s future, if things don’t change – and that recognition is essential for both characters. 

The jokes in the film do feel a little repetitive after a minute, and the movie was threatening to just continue snowballing in the same direction. Fortunately, the movie does eventually slow down on some of the dark humor that was beginning to loop, as it shifts into the next phase of the story before it outstays its welcome. Employee of the Month manages to deliver some laughs and a few characters that are empathetic, earning the Decent Watch rating.

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