Inhuman Resources: Il Posto (The Job)

Inhuman Resources: Il Posto (The Job)

Static Mass Rating: 3/5
Mr Bongo Records 

Release date: April 25th 2011
Certificate (UK): U
Running time: 93 minutes

Original language: Italian with English subtitles
Year of production: 1961

Director: Ermanno Olmi

Cast: Loredana Detto, Sandro Panseri, Tullio Kezich, Mara Revel, Guido Spadea

If Il Posto were any less adorned in its representation of reality, it would probably just show you yourself sitting in front of the screen watching yourself sitting in front of the screen watching yourself in an infinite regression of boredom. Such is the fastidiousness with which it relates the commonplace.

An exact and exacting feature by somewhat overshadowed neorealist director Ermanno Olmi, the film tells the story of a timorous adolescent’s voyage out into what is sometimes mistakenly regarded as “the real world”.

Il Posto

Domenico is barely out of short of trousers when Italy’s post-war “economic miracle” unexpectedly induces him to give up his education to find work.

His family, who have probably migrated from the countryside, live in a cramped compartment on the outskirts of Milan. Domenico sleeps in the living room where the film opens one bleak morning as he vainly seeks the uterine sanctuary of the bed-sheets. His mother ejects him, as mothers are accustomed to do.

Due to attend a recruitment meeting at a nameless, featureless large corporation, before his departure Domenico’s mother reminds him of the significance of the day: “If you get in there you’ll have a job for life!” He recoils.

Il Posto

The young Italian accepts his fate with gloomy detachment, already perhaps slightly neurotic in anticipation of what must seem inexorable. For almost the duration of the movie poor Domenico wears alternating looks of destitution and grimacing horror.

Almost, but not entirely, for erotic possibility and shopping intrude where all was hopeless despair. Here is a pretty girl. There is a motorbike. An irrepressible boyish grin brightens his features. Maybe life will be okay after all?

Il Posto’s vision of corporate capitalism as a deranged sadomasochistic bureaucracy of enervated slaves is an early cinematic example of a theme favoured by many filmmaker’s since, including Terry Gilliam (Brazil- 1985) and Roy Anderrson (Songs from the Second Floor- 2000).

Il Posto

With a cast of unprofessional actors, an unhurried tempo and a script that is more than comfortable to tell you things too tedious to repeat, Il Posto is a stark, uncompromising depiction of the brittle screaming inwardness of salaried bondage.

Il Posto has a prodigious reputation and I don’t much doubt that second and third viewings would produce some excellent interest and pleasure.

There are a couple of stirring episodes- a desperate scramble to inherit the brightest desk after its previous inhabitant preferred death to another day at the office particularly stands out- but most of the movie requires patience, focus and some familiarity with the traditions of cinema to unlock its quiet excellence.

A connoisseurs’ film then, but one that left me cool on first watch.

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