Thursday, August 24, 2023

A journalist does under cover work


Juliette Binoche plays a journalist who goes undercover to expose the exploitation of the women who clean ferries that traverse the English Channel. The work is brutally difficult, and the women who do it struggle to keep their heads above water. Based on a book by real-life reporter Florence Aubenas, Between Two Worlds finds Binoche posing as Marianne Winkler, a divorcee whose well-heeled husband left her without resources. Desperate, Marianne turns to gig work. As the story develops, Marianne befriends Chrystele (Helene Lambert), a single mother straining to keep her three-kid household afloat. The cleaning work is far from glamorous, and director Emmanuel Carrera, working from a screenplay he wrote with Hélène Devynck, depicts the drudgery the women experience as they hurry to make beds and clean bathrooms during the short period between ferry trips. The screenplay also attempts to deal with the ethical issues involving reporters and their sources, particularly when the journalist doesn't identify as a reporter.  It's an interesting enough issue but the movie's commitment to portraying the dogged realism of gig labor turns ethical concerns into a bit of an afterthought. The byplay among the women reflects appealing authenticity; it made me wonder whenever Between Two Worlds wouldn't have been more effective had it told Chrystele's story and left journalism at the shore.

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