The Workshop

2017 [FRENCH]

Action / Drama / Mystery / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 89% · 44 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 59% · 50 ratings
IMDb Rating 6.5/10 10 2288 2.3K


Top cast

Marina Foïs as Olivia Dejazet
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.02 GB
French 2.0
Subtitles us  fr  
24 fps
1 hr 53 min
Seeds ...
2.09 GB
French 5.1
Subtitles us  fr  
24 fps
1 hr 53 min
Seeds ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by baharuka 8 / 10

It gets better and better

The movie begins in a small town, at a writing course, with creating an exceptionally realistic atmosphere surrounding French youth of different backgrounds and mindsets, with the addition of a cosmopolitan writer from Paris who is their course instructor. All actors give natural and brilliant performances. Then the movie focuses more and more on one French guy with far-right associations and the instructor. Very well done character study in my opinion. The thrilling turn the second half takes surprised me and the ending satisfied me. Not a typical big screen movie but I think it would be very watchable for most viewers.

Reviewed by spookyrat1 7 / 10

Wry French Social Drama!

Trust the French to make a cleverly, realistic piece set largely amidst a creative writing workshop. I somehow couldn't imagine the Americans doing it. I haven't seen any of writer/director Laurent Cantet's earlier work, but I gather The Workshop is similar in construction to his earlier feature The Class.

Olivia, a well-known Parisian crime thriller novelist, is hired to run a summer creative writing workshop with a group of seven young people of mixed heritage in La Ciotat, a former coastal industrial town of some note, near Marseille in the South of France. As events play out, the most literary talented of the group is the black sheep; a loner by the name of Antoine whose thinking is influenced by a heavy right-wing ideology gained by primarily watching postings on various social media platforms. He makes writing proposals that others, including Olivia at times, consider shocking, but she becomes determined to investigate the contributing factors to Antoine's creative spark. Simultaneously, Antoine seeks to learn more about his teacher's social circumstances and is not backward in coming forward to cast a critical eye over her work.

The processes behind the setting up of the workshop are (deliberately) not really spelt out. But it's suggested that it may be some sort of local government initiative to engage disadvantaged youth. Whatever the reasons, a good number of the group, especially most of the males, initially exhibit a fair amount of reluctance to actually contribute much and are openly envious of the comfortable lifestyle, they feel their tutor enjoys. We understand that since the winding up of the ship-building industry, that was the economic backbone of La Ciotat some decades before, prospects of worthwhile careers in the town have been slim.

The goal Olivia eventually sets the seven, is to jointly compose a novel set in their depressed hometown. They decide to write a thriller, but apart from Antoine, no-one else really has any strong ideas about what direction it should take. Antoine's thoughts encompassing disturbing paeans to violence with strong racist overtones, are criticised by the rest. Olivia, whilst seeking to quash open conflict amongst the group, does see an honesty in Antoine's writing that she thinks she should attempt to employ in her own work.

The latter half of the movie evolves into a kind of thriller itself, as the 2 protagonists, all but stalk one another, in various nocturnal escapades that appear to grow increasingly dangerous, especially to Olivia. Thankfully, and this is not really spoiling, the finale is distinctly unthriller-like and in my opinion is intelligently somewhat upbeat. The big takeaway from The Workshop is that majority group think is not always the best path to follow and that the odd man out, may well have a message worth listening to, even in an ameliorated format.

The acting is particularly good, especially since the workshop group were all non-professionals. Marina Foïs as Olivia, is very convincing, as the successfully experienced writer, who gradually comes to the realisation, through not always pleasant interactions with her student, that her own writing style leaves room for self-improvement. The symbolism behind the regular scenes of Antoine swimming is somewhat unclear to me; perhaps they allude to the final surprising scenes of the movie.

The Workshop is obviously not the sort of film that will rock everyone's boat. It is both cerebral and deals with social issues relevant to France, a country with large minority immigrant groups and sub-cultures. But it does boast an original, quite engaging storyline, though in offering it up, Laurent Cantet may be guilty to an extent, of repeating himself.

Reviewed by westsideschl 6 / 10

Had Potential

The storyline concerns a successful novelist who is hired to come to a French town experiencing a post shipbuilding industrial decline to give a workshop to a half dozen young adults (late teens/early 20s) on developing writing/creative thinking skills. Not clear if it's to help develop the youth's futures, or to become writers, or learn cooperative skills, or become well adjusted. The author encourages them to "Do research to make your fiction more real." Good potential for some insight on writing, but what we get for the movie is a lot of immature antagonistic aggressive back and forth from the group which leads me to believe the movie is more about exposing the differences amongst them (racial, gender, religious, political). Some cooperative understanding did surface, but a lot was left unclear which probably mirrors life.

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