Unskilled but willing Tahar Rahim joins the maintenance team at a French nuclear power station, but among his fellow workers, who form a rag-tag community in off-site mobile homes, radiation isn’t the only invisible menace hanging in the air. When Rahim falls into the arms of minxy Léa Seydoux, the bride-to-be of stalwart crew member Denis Ménochet, the build-up of jealousy, resentment and foreboding could soon approach danger levels.
What sounds like a promising dramatic premise unfortunately fizzles out due to writer-director Rebecca Zlotowski trying to be a bit too clever for her own good. Like her compatriot Claire Denis, she’s fascinated by bodies and the inner tensions of working groups, and knows how to make arresting use of an eclectic score. But by unwisely following Denis’s maverick penchant for elliptical storytelling she lets the emotional through-line slip out of her grasp. Rahim and Seydoux generate heat together, and Olivier Gourmet proves reliably assured among a supporting crew of gnarly old geezers. Yet overall this is one of those artfully skewed movies which should be entrancing yet actually prompts little genuine feeling.