As would be expected from Laurent Cantet, writer-director of the Palme d’Or-winning The Class, and writer Robin Campillo (120 BPM), The Workshop is a riveting contemporary drama, one that blends social commentary with a complex study of the modern world.
Set in La Ciotat, France, the film centres around Antoine (Matthieu Lucci), a teenager who attends a summer writing workshop. The group is tasked with writing a noirish crime thriller under the tutelage of celebrated novelist Olivia Dejazet (Marina Foïs, Polisse), on the basis that the final piece is connected with the industrial past of their quiet hometown.
While the class set about their projects, Olivia is gradually captivated by Antoine’s growing indifferent and aggressive behaviour, as well as his anxieties about the modern world. This is reflected in his writing, which becomes more violent and disturbing in its depiction of a mass murderer whose politically radicalist leanings Antoine begins to sympathise with - a provocative streak Olivia is at once alarmed and fascinated by.