Eric Gravel‘s Full Time (Music Box) is a first-rate, expertly acted (Laure Calamy!), 100% genuine film about hard knocks and real, actual life, and is therefore worth about 20 Super Mario Bros or Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves combined, and at least 50 times whatever bullshit value you want to assign to John Wick: Chapter 4…I spit on all these films (especially Wick) and cherish the time that I spent with Full Time (aka À plein temps).

Even though, to be 100% honest, I found it spiritually exhausting toward the end. But that’s an intended effect.

The 40ish Julie (Calamy) can’t catch a breath, much less a break. She’s a divorced mom raising two toddlers in the too-far-away Parisian suburb of Collemieres (157 kilometers). She works as the top maid in a five-star Parisian hotel, having to leave super-early and always returning too late. And her husband is late with the alimony.

And then life gets even harder when a train strike hits. Julie has to beg, sidestep, wheedle, plead for assistance and bend the rules all the time just to keep her head above water. Raising two kids is a crushing responsibility for a single parent under the best of circumstances, but the strike makes life all but impossible.

Victor Seguin‘s cinematography and especially the editing by Mathilde Van de Moortel work hand in hand to create a thriller-like atmosphere. The cutting is straight out of the Bourne movies.

But when things take a turn for the worse at the two-thirds mark and — SPOILERS! — Julie loses her local childcare provider and especially when she apparently doesn’t land a better-paying job that she’s been interviewing for, I felt myself starting to wilt. I was rooting for this poor harried woman to somehow make it through, but I began to find it too exhausting and stressful…I just gave up.

Thank God things turn around at the end, but what a slog with the punishing commute and the two kids and the rail strike and doing it all alone…GOOD LORD!!!

It’s an excellent film nonetheless. I could easily see it again. Calmy’s performance is about as real and convincing as anything in this realm could possibly be.

Anecdote #1: “Gravel chose to give the Paris scenes a chilly, blue-ish tint so that the atmosphere would seem forbidding, to show that the city is hostile territory for Julie.”

Anecdote #2: “Calamy went through hotel maid training so she’s make it all look right.

Anecdote #3: “The backdrop is more or less a recreation of the 1995 Paris transportation strikes, and the camaraderie that suburbans came to rely on during the rough and tumble.”

Full Time premiered in Venice a year and a half ago and has been streaming since mid March. I only just caught it last weekend.