I Really Hate My Job
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I Really Hate My Job

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The harsh fact of life for the vast majority of the human species is we have to get up each and every day and go to work. Sure there are a privileged few that don’t have to be concerned with such trivial and mundane matters but the rest of us have the daily grind to contend with. As such most people in the audience will identify to some degree with the sentiment provided in the title of the movie under review here, ‘I Really Hate My Job’. With a title like this you just know that it has to be a tongue in cheek comedy and it is. The film follows a group of five women working for a restaurant as they go about they usual day. It also juxtaposes the upper crust as they anticipate the arrival of a celebrity for a meal. This film hits home for anyone working class person but will strike a particular chord for those who have every worked in the service industry. This movie is able to provide a fun and entertaining time but is not really geared towards the younger set. First of all you have to have worked a job like those portrayed here to fully understand the humor. If you have held down a job, waiting for that fateful day when you can quit for something better then this movie will bring that certain smile to your face.

While not at the top of the genre this film does have its moments. All you have to do is consider the talented people on either side of the camera and you will get an idea of the creativity behind this movie. The script was written by Jennifer Higgie who is making her freshman effort with this film. Considering this movie is thematically based on the viewpoints of five women it is best that a woman pen the story. One natural way to go is to make each of the female characters an archetype of different women. To some degree Higgie does this but each of the five leads is more complex than usually depicted in a film of this nature. Each woman is fleshed out as much as possible within the confines of budget ad running time. The women here have dominate personality traits but there are under currents that surface to let the audience glimpse what is motivating them, All of them have hopes and dreams that are not being fulfilled in their current jobs. The dialogue is natural for a group of working class women, There is no witty banter to be found here; that would come across as unrealistic or at worse, forced. What works very well here is the way Higgie uses her characters to paint more than a picture of personalities. The emotional drives are far more important to the plot of the movie. The introduction of the celebrity gives a fresh turn to the story. Higgie uses this to give her characters a bit look at what they desire but which remains unattainable.

Taking the helm of this comedy is veteran director Oliver Parker. He has an impressive list of credentials behind him at this point of his career. He started his career with an ambitious choice of projects, ‘Othello’ starting Laurence Fishburne in the lead. Next he took on bringing a work of Oscar Wilde to the screen, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. His next work after this will be another film dealing with a group of women but this time the setting is school not work. His methods here are straightforward. He avoids the usual strange camera angles and fancy lighting to focus on the important thing here, the characters. Here is a director that demonstrates trust in his writer and cast. His camera is the unblinking eye that allows the audience a view of these five, intersecting lives. He does have one little camera trick that borders on annoying. He moves in to a tight close-up shaking the camera a bit just before the audience hears to the thoughts of the person. Parker glides seamlessly between each of the women letting the revealing the back stories organically. In turn the emotions come out. They range from sheer joy to despair taking the audience on a roller coaster ride of feelings. This is a chatty film and one where the humor comes from how familiar the situations are.

This film starts in the most natural place for a tale about work; commuting into the job. Alice (Shirley Henderson) has just gotten off the London subway and is heading to the restaurant. Because of her job she is starting just as most people are calling it an end to their day. She muses that she feels claustrophobic and isolated at the same time. As Alice enters work she is greeted by Suzie (Alexandra Maria Lara) who is already busy getting the place ready to open. Behind the bar is Madonna (Anna Maxwell Martin). She works the front of the house and is also busy preparing for the evening. Alice asks Suzie to get her a cup of coffee and has a smoke while waiting. When some customers knock over Alice’s purse she bends to pick it up and is photographed by Suzie. Alice is an aspiring author who just finished her book about a woman who runs away to the sea. Alice is normally low level help in the kitchen but tonight she is asked by Rita to fill in as the chef, something that Alice is reluctant to do. Right after agreeing to take on the cooking Alice opens a letter; a publisher has rejected her novel as ‘unmarketable’. Just then Abby, (Neve Campbell) the American in the group, comes in; she is the bartender for the place. She is trying to become an actress but so far nothing seems to be going her way. Abby is also the most self absorbed of the lot. When Alice is struggling with a large pot, spilling much of the contents on the floor Abby just walks around her making sure not to soil her shoes. The last of the group is an older woman, Rita (Oana Pellea), a stern Latina who is certain there are rats afoot. It turns out later that she is correct in her assumption. Rita has been assigned to help Alice in the kitchen that night. The night turns out to be more hectic than usual when a celebrity makes a reservation and rats show up running around the place.

The film has that quite humor that the audience can drift into. Each of the actresses performs extremely well in their respective parts. Campbell has the more difficult task of being the least likable of the cast. She manages to make Abby interesting despite the fact that everyone dislikes her. The many mishaps that occur never come off as forced but rather as just one of those days we have all had in jobs like this. The film is out on DVD through Magnolia who is getting quite a reputation for little small budget movies like this. The film is one that most will identify with; managers in over their heads, people just looking for a paycheck and things going wrong at the worse possible time. This is one to enjoy.

Posted 03/31/08

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