‘Rules of the Game’ is witty, charming look at youth

Rules of the Game is witty, charming look at youth

John Flanegin

Rules of the Game chronicles five different french teenagers and twenty-somethings through their systematic ups and down whilst enrolled in one of France’s “employability programs” during an eight month period at a human resources office dubbed Ingeus.
Filmmakers Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard follow the young job-seekers from their initiation to the firm and capture their often hilarious struggles to find an occupation until the final credits roll.
Entirely in french with english subtitles, Rules of the Game began slow for me, and I was somewhat uninterested in the introduction and stories of the five oblivious and out-of-work prospects who struck me as high school dropouts and students who barely graduated. The fledgling workers showed little motivation from the get-go, failing mock interviews, striking out in calling for job offers and oversleeping for their job interviews as well as their own Ingeus meetings.
All of these factors set the stage for what I thought would be a 180 degree turn for each of the aspiring workers, but each character’s own limitations stopped them short of attaining their goals and ultimately getting out of their parents’ home.
Through each passing month in the film, I learned more about the “kid’s” personalities and more about their true identities. Each of the five Ingeus program members had their own distinct and important traits, ranging from Lolita, the foul-mouthed and self-loathing tiny ball of fire, to Hamid, a womanizing ex-soccer star who often cracked jokes, making light of the situation at hand. The dialogue between mentor and student made the film seem more like a comedy than a serious documentary and had my theater often bellowing in laughter and snorts as we sat and watched the Ingeus team try to turn the ragtag bunch of misfits into job-ready adults.
Having gone into the movie expecting a cliché tale of self-improvement and hard work that builds up to the main character finally attaining their goal, I was pleasantly surprised by the lighthearted story telling that Bories and Chagnard were able to embed into the film which made a boring, uninteresting topic into a narrative that was hard not to enjoy. Rules of the Game is a witty and charming documentary that you shouldn’t overlook.
By John Flanegin