The Nothing Factory

Running nearly three hours, this Portuguese drama focuses on a standoff between labor and management at a failing industrial plant, and the epic length underscores the frustration of its working-class characters as the plant sits idle. Called to the plant in the middle of the night, they clash with truck crews that have been sent to haul away the machinery; the company has been taken over, and middle managers arrive on the scene the next morning to interview employees, offer deals to a lucky few, and sack everyone else. At the same time, a hairy Marxist academic who’s been hanging around the factory tries to persuade the workers to collectivize and run the place themselves, a notion that soon collides with their unenlightened self-interest. Director Pedro Pinho breaks away from the main story at times to follow one of the workers in off hours with his wife and child; their aimless enjoyment of life and each other shows how sweet nothing can be when you’re not getting paid to do it. In French and Portuguese with subtitles.