Sunday, March 22, 2009

Film Fest: Hiring Squad

The ranks of my employed friends have been thinning rapidly. I hope they do not look for re-employment at Farewell-Gutmann, a fictional company with all the warmth that a firefly produces in a blizzard. This is not a great film, but it is oddly compelling.

Working in a large office or corporation is a strange trip. So is this movie. Welcome to Farewell-Gutmann plays like a frightening fairy tale. Instead of ogres hiding under bridges, scary things happen in the hallways and in cold offices.
When their boss dies, three upper management people in a large pharmaceutical company hope to be promoted. The company sends an eerie Bela Lugosi look-alike to put the hopefuls through some grueling, degrading and unorthodox interviews.

A second, equally desperate, group of job seekers wants to get their feet in the door. Perhaps it is the difficult economic climate, but watching these people writhe and grovel was very uncomfortable. The barren corridors and antiseptic offices was oppressive. A few of the job seekers went over the top in expressing their desires, and the director seemed to have one foot in black comedy and the other in drama.

Still, the workplace is a compelling vehicle for a director. Everyone has been there: looking for work, looking for promotion, hiring, firing or fearing termination. We know some of theses characters will get the job and others will get jettisoned. This empathy makes it hard to take our eyes off of the screen.

If you happen to be one of the many recently unemployed, you will leave the theater after two hours at Farewell-Gutmann with the consolation that you may not be missing much – just the money and the pressure.
— Bob Carson
Saturday, March 21, 1:50 p.m.; Monday, March 23, 4:30 p.m. Spain; Subtitles, 100 minutes

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