“L’Emploi du temps”: a drama by Laurent Cantet to (re)watch on Arte.tv

On the occasion of the death of Laurent Cantet on April 25 at the age of 63, ARTE put three works by this French filmmaker online, including his second feature film The timetable (2021), with Aurélien Recoing, Karin Viard and Serge Livrozet. Bulles de Culture’s analysis, opinion and film review on this award-winning drama inspired by a true story.


Ashamed of having lost his job, Vincent (Aurélien Recoing), a respectable family man, invents a fake life and turns into a scammer.

The timetable : Laurent Cantet’s feature film awarded at the Venice Film Festival

Awarded at the Venice Film Festival 2001 by a Golden Lion in the “Cinema of the Present” section, the feature film The timetable depicts a man, played by Aurélien Recoingwho from lie to lie, will try in vain to escape his new status as unemployed.

Although it deals, as in the first feature film of Laurent Cantet, Human ressources (2000)a social theme (unemployment), The timetable is above all interested in the description of the double life of a character who tries to perpetuate the man he has always been in the eyes of his family.

Decryption Culture Bubbles of the subtle staging of Laurent Cantet through some representative sequences of this work.

The innocence of the game

In the first shots of the film The timetablewe can notice, in the background of the action, children playing each time we see Vincent (Aurélien Recoing) talking with his wife, Muriel (Karin Viard), on the phone. So, like these kids, Vincent innocently plays the role of a man at work for his wife.

First scene of the film: occupying the right side of the screen, Vincent is sleeping soundly in the passenger seat – the dead man’s seat at that! His mobile phone, placed in the center of the screen to attract the eye and not surprise the viewer when it rings — which is not the goal of the film here! —, rings. Vincent wakes up and answers: it’s Muriel, his wife. Then appears on the left of the image, a bus which stops and discharges children rushing onto the asphalt to play.

Later: at a motorway rest area, other children run up and play on an outdoor playground when Vincent is again on the line with his other half. Additionally, in this scene, Vincent is going around in circles while talking, as are the children in the background, who are going around in circles on their merry-go-round.

Finally, another scene of this type is repeated, but this time without children, when Vincent sings at the top of his voice in his car a French variety song playing on the radio.

Father and eldest son

Of Vincent’s three children, only the eldest son, Julien (Nicolas Kalsch), follows a direction parallel to his father. This closeness is underlined by a scene where after the karate fight won by Julien, the family is split into two groups in the image: on one side, the father and the eldest son; on the other, the mother and the two other children.

Another iconic scene in The timetable : Vincent returns home late in the evening with his newly purchased 4×4 and meets his son on the way. In every conversation between them, both refuse to say what they actually do when they are alone.

Social at Laurent Cantet

A nod from the director Laurent Cantetat the very beginning of the film The timetableon his civic opinions: at one point, Vincent buys some trinkets at a gas station and in the shot, we can see on the newspaper stand: Charlie Hebdo, The Chained Duck, L’Humanité And The New Economist — the latter being justified by the social role of the hero.


Windows, there is a fairly large set of windows in The timetable. Thus, from the opening of the film, it is the windshield of Vincent’s car which occupies the entire screen. A foggy windshield as if to say that even transparent, nothing is clear.

It is then a glass door that opens for Vincent when he returns home for the first time and his wife does not yet suspect anything. Door which he then closes himself.
Later, it is this same glass door that he is forced to open in the evening to return home when his wife knows the truth.

Finally, without a job, it is through windows that he will see people working: at the UN and when he goes to explain himself to his former colleague (Nigel Palmer).

Our opinion ?

Drawing loose inspiration from the “Jean-Claude Romand affair” — the story of a man who lived a lie for eighteen years before massacring his family — for his second feature film, The timetabledirector Laurent Cantet signs one of his best productions.

Learn more:

  • The timetable is available in streaming on Arte.tv from Friday April 26, 2024 to Friday October 25, 2024
Addicted to films, plays, series and culture in general, I like works that surprise me.

Top 3 Cinema: “Breathless” (1960), “Blade Runner” (1982), “Casablanca” (1942)
Top 3 TV: “Engrenages” (2005-…), “The Wire” (2002-2008), “Twin Peaks” (1990-1991)

Jean-Christophe Nurbel

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