The tenacious women in overalls and aprons play a giant game of Tetris in a warehouse, except this level has an added hindrance they’ve never had to overcome before. They have to defend their freshly stacked mountain of cardboard boxes, full of Jacques Couture footwear—a French company— from six men planning to empty the warehouse. Following the orders of the penny-pinching CEO, the guys are sending the boxes to Chinese warehouses so that players there can play Tetris cheaper and quicker. So the women stamp their feet in a unified rhythm, and they puff out their chests, and they look at their opponents with confident smirks.
One man calls out, “Come on, guys!” and the women lunge forward and start pushing them back. The shoes in the boxes are the product of their hard work and guarantee of employment. They’ve played this game hundreds of times before, and they will fight as hard as they can to make sure it isn’t their last.
The French film Footnotes or Sur Que Pied Danser has nothing to do with Tetris. In fact, it isn’t a game at all, unless you find Julie’s scrambling from job to job and fighting for basic necessities to be one. Motivated by the looming demands of an angry landlord, Julie finally found a position as a supervisor at a luxury shoe warehouse. After securing this position, she breaks into a light-hearted song, grinning at everyone she passes and singing, “Everything’s fine, sweeter this life of mine… At least I think so.”
Sadly, the greedy higher-ups of Jacques Footwear have a different plan that will change her fate — building a cheaper factory in China — which forces Julie to undergo the dilemma of either striking with her shoe-making colleagues or kissing up to the boss to keep her job. Despite the rather disheartening subject, Footnotes consists of musical numbers that provide an escape from the gloom of the moment. The songs embody the mood of the scenes which range from hopeless, to comical, to powerful. The film carries a tonal balance of humorous and serious, which makes it easily digestible, in this writer’s opinion.
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When the women skip work to strike at headquarters instead, even they begin to fall for the charms of the head honcho, Xavier Laurent, professional smooth talker. He practically hypnotizes them with his suave dance moves which convince the women that he is on their side. A man who can float across the room and sway his hips can’t be hiding anything, right? By this, the women were sorely mistaken, and you have a front-row seat to the fall out of hypnosis and snap into reality that the employees undergo.
From then on, they reclaim their power with teeth clenched, fists tightened, lawn chairs outstretched, picnics set, and a steadfast hold onto their dignity. They spend the rest of the film on strike and enjoy themselves at the same time.
With empowering moments and inviting music numbers, Footnotes is appropriate for a wide audience. If you advocate for workers’ rights, you will appreciate the powerful glow that exudes from these women when they fight for their rightfully earned jobs. Also, if you know what it’s like to be the new person at a job — that awkward, nerve-racking feeling — Julie’s solos will seem to speak right to you.
Directors: Paul Calori and Kostia Testut
Producer: Xavier Delmas
About the Author: Abby Utley
Abby Utley writes as a method of truth-seeking. Getting to the bottom of things is her prerogative, and so is keeping her music playlists fresh. Although she puts originality at the forefront of her written pieces, she finds the most inspiration after immersing herself in other art forms. When she's not writing, you may find her at the rock climbing gym, where she may take a break thirty minutes into her workout to write a satirical article. Finding humor where one may not expect is another one of Abby's prerogatives that allows her to think out of that stingy ole box that so many adults find themselves trapped in. She thinks tapping back into a childlike imagination is something all writers should work towards.