Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 110 minutes
Emmanuelle Devos plays Emmanuelle Blachey, a powerful woman in the corporate world who is recruited by a French matriarch to run for CEO of a state-owned energy company. Blachey, and the posse of women supporting her, are at the top of their fields, but that doesn’t matter to the men around them—be it fathers, husbands, or colleagues—who treat women as alternately something to look at, something to conquer, or something to use. A film with enough deceit and intrigue to qualify as a light thriller, its essentially feminist message is not lost in the drama—it’s only made stronger. (KATIE HERZOG)
SIFF Says:Intelligent, sharp, and incredibly revealing of the dynamics of white collar gender politics, NUMBER ONE is a sophisticated film that points out all the unfortunate truths of sexism in the French corporate world. Emmanuelle Devos is Emmanuelle Blachey, a strong-willed, sensible, and career-centered woman who holds a rare, powerful position as the only female executive at a prestigious French firm. She is approached by Adrienne (Francine Bergé), who believes that the times are ripe for a female CEO to enter France’s CAC 40—the equivalent of the Dow Jones. If successful, Blachey would become the first female in French history to hold such immense and corporate power. Backed by a group of female lobbyists, Adrienne tells Blachey that their target is Jean Beaumel (Richard Berry), a retiring CEO of a major water distribution company called Anthea. While Blachey hesitates, a series of events leads her to change her position, forcing her to choose between career, identity, and ideals. Intelligent in dialogue and keen in performance, NUMBER ONE is a film that showcases the twists and turns that all successful female leaders must endure. The film is full of nuanced moments of casual sexism that we all take for granted for not seeing, a film that, indeed, should be seen not for just its impeccable acting, but also for its message.
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