In just over 80 minutes, filmmaker Jean-Gabriel Périot provides a fleet, thorough, and incisive sociological examination of the French working class over the past 70 years. Loosely adapting Didier Eribon’s 2009 memoir Returning to Reims, in which the author’s journey back to his hometown in northern France became a reckoning with his family’s history and politics, Périot weaves his own nonfiction tapestry, using decades’ worth of artfully deployed archival footage, film clips, and TV news reports to illustrate the rise, fall, and hopeful rebirth of the country’s proletariat, as well as how social identity is gradually constructed. Narrated by Adèle Haenel and structured in two distinct halves—the personal and the political—Periot’s sensationally edited film is an urgent reminder that the moral health of a nation is dependent on how it treats its citizens.

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