Monday, October 8, 2012

Time Out

"A bourgeois is someone who instrumentalizes his social relations in terms of the rules of the market, and who is zoned by the people who assign value to property as having value in proximity to his property and his being self-possessed."

pg. 33 Cruel Optimism

In  Time Out,  the protagonist Vincent, is an overconfident optimist who convinces his friends to invest their money in a business venture that he knows of because of a new job he has with the UN.  His position, and the investment hes been collecting hundreds of thousands of francs for does not actually exist.  He is just buying time.  They are just the major lies that are part of a string of tales he tells his family, friends ( and himself) after he resigns from a job he held for 11 years.  Although he's being totally shady about his new job ( no one really knows what he does.. yet.. except he works at the UN and impresses them enough that they ask no other questions) There's a feeling of Bernie Madoff induced deja vu  as investors other than those he sought out  (frenemies??.) want to get in on what sounds like a lucrative deal.   However, halfway through the film Vincents affect toward the situation changes (and there is very noticable difference in the way he physically carries himself from this moment in the movie onward) as a old friend, who doesn't have the hundreds of thousands of francs to invest (only 12,000 ) seems to snap Vincent out of his self induced hypnotism into a reality that involves consequences.  (Vincent obviously doesn't want to hurt this friend).

Although it is easy to see Vincent as a total asshole for betraying his family, the audience starts to get more insight into what it was he did before his resignation.  He didn't like his job... the best part of it was being in his car, often driving away from the place.
What defines Vincent is his job.  Everything is ok, as long as you're employed.  Yes, you may not be happy... Yes, you may work long hours.... but the lifestyle that your family lives is reliant on either keeping that position (regardless of your happiness) or a better one.
If this is the case.. Vincent will lie to his family and friends and do what it takes to either create a fulfilling job for himself, even if it doesn't exist.  In his dream job, he buys himself a Land Rover that his management demands he gets for his new position.  He takes his expensive 180,000 franc purchase off-roading in mounds of dirt.... he's happy, laughing and childlike..

This is all before his unraveling ( the entire second half of the movie).

For anyone who has worked for someone else.. (myself included) there is a certain amount of empathy you have for his character that wants to see him succeed in being happy without all the dishonesty and scamming because although I did not have the responsibility of a family, I have worked for other people (in a job I loved) yet it was still a sacrifice on my behalf.  I worked outrageous hours (often) and my interpersonal relationships as well as personal health were sacrificed so I could live in New York City and seem like I was "having it all" but I was incredibly unhappy (drinking a fair share of alcohol) and paying absurd amounts of money to an Upper West Side therapist who would listen to me cry about my problems that stemmed mostly from overwork.   In New York, you are defined by your job, so unlike my friends who were unemployed, it was still easy for me to go to a party, meet a stranger and answer the question every New Yorker used to break the ice "So what do you do for a living?"

Lauren Berlant doesn't touch on this in the chapters we were assigned, but in chapter three, A Slow Death, she begins to look at the idea of optimism outside of the crisis state and how it is an everyday for those who are free from traumas of the extreme.

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