Friday, June 15, 2007

Il Posto

1961, Italy, directed by Ermanno Olmi
A member of the second generation of post-war Italian filmmakers, director Ermanno Olmi combines much of the spirit of neo-realism with an extremely dry wit, using his acute observational skills to skewer the absurdities of the modern workplace. Olmi's film has the thinnest of narrative threads - a fresh-faced young man applies for a job, and meets a girl - but plot is the least of his concerns, as he develops a rich and wry portrait of a large Italian company, where dozens of young people compete for slots that will provide them a job for life (given how young some of them are, that's a very long time indeed; while some viewers may be nostalgic for the notion of job security, Olmi tends to see many such positions as long-lasting dead ends).

The company bombards the potential new hires with a barrage of tests and exercises worthy of NASA, with the young applicants themselves often mystified as to the utility of what is asked of them. Once hired, though, the employees tended to be regarded as recalcitrant pupils in the classroom, with many of the workers conforming to this treatment, including acting up at the back of the room (the contrast between the status of applicants and employees is underlined by two sequences focused on late arrivals: the employee receives a paternalistic dressing-down where the applicant is indulged). Olmi draws a clear contrast between the conformity idealized by the company and the individual lives of the employees, inter-cutting, in an entirely unexpected fashion, brief and powerful snapshots from the home lines of those we encounter, while his efficient establishment of character, and character foibles, at times hints at Tati's brilliant cinematic shorthand.

No comments:


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States