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15th Biffes 2024: Richelieu - The Temporaries


A clear example of capitalism mowing down basic human decency, Richelieu or The Temporaries highlights the plight of immigrant workers and the lack of choices they face. Guatemalan workers are brought into Canada to work in a corn processing factory doing manual labor.


The Plot of Richelieu


A full-time employee for a corn processing plant is stuck between seeing the terrible state of her Guatemalan workers and not paying for her condo. When things come to a head she ends up quitting the job only to see things get worse for her workers in her absence.


Ariane Castellanos playing Ariane in Richelieu

Things get quite graphic in the case of one worker who suffers from chronic back pain due to the immense physical strain that he undergoes on his job. This job is almost 7 days a week with very little break time if any. When Ariane's boss takes over her role and provides the worker with pain medication it leads to horrible consequences.


The medication is Ibuprofen and it is supposed to be taken within certain limits as it is a blood thinner. Things come to a head when Manuel starts throwing up blood due to the excess Ibuprofen.



It is really interesting when Ariane's mother tells her to let go of things at her plant and that she doesn't need to do as much. To this, Ariane responds by saying she did the same with her now estranged husband Richard only for him to scam her out of her life.



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The Cast


Needless to say, the cast is unfamiliar to me, to say the least. The Canadian actress Ariane Castellanos of some repute plays Ariane the Plant translator to the migrant workers from Guatemala.


Among the workers, the people with the most screentime include Nelson Coronado who plays Manuel Morales along with Luis Oliva who is the most outspoken among the group.



Marc-André Grondin plays Stéphane, the hard-hearted plant supervisor who has to make the tough calls to ensure that everyone doesn't get fired and the plant shuts down. Micheline Bernard is another Canadian actress who plays the mother of Ariane, helping her navigate the troubled waters of her life.



Relevance to Present Day


The exploitation and abuse of migrant workers have always been a major issue for the past few decades at least. Such exploitation is similar to the proverbial fire that plagues your neighbor. If someone you know close to you undergoing a situation of exploitation and you don't help out, it might come back to bite you in the butt.


Manuel in Richelieu

What does this mean to all you white-collar workers? If you have kept an eye on the recent layoffs in every major company across the world - no job is safe. The change will have to come from us the employees holding up our employers past, present, and future to higher accountability and ethical standards.



This means saying to no performative work, and keeping work result-centric. It also means letting company HRs know that genuine applicants for work positions require replies to their applications, regardless of outcome.


Stephane speaking to his workers

Also saying bye to tokenism where things are done in the office just to make a show of work-life balance whereas everyone is miserable in their jobs. We need to ensure that corporate work culture is held to a higher standard than the stale ones we are used to.



Should You Watch This? Yes!


Richelieu is a movie that everyone who has ever worked needs to watch. It opens us up to the plight of migrant workers and also any situation of exploitation you might have experienced as an employee.


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