Eye For Film >> Movies >> Work (2017) Film Review
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
"Do you even give a fuck?" Jess is asked, and it's hard not to. Jasmine Breinberg's presence is polyglot, a young woman in various places, spaces, negotiating an at times horrifying series of encounters that will be sadly familiar to too many women. Language appropriate because it's so often silent, but still communicating. From, and not at, with and not to, moments of focus and stillness and blur.
We could perhaps talk of things like microaggressions and failures of emotional labour but this is deeper, a gazetteer of miseries inflicted by society, by individuals who'd agree with Thatcher, by families, by colleagues, by and by.
Aneil Karia's film is strong, but it left me discomfited, and it's hard for me to put my finger on the reason. It may be that I'm misreading the intent of its arc as something other than redemptive or empowering or that there's something about a male gaze foregrounded in a film with this intent. It's certainly intended to discomfit, but even after a second viewing I'm not sure that I have read it right, that I have not misjudged intent, allowed myself to be miscommunicated with. Deeper, even less comfortable arguments about duplicity, and violence, await.
There's definitely something here. Something more than movement and soundtrack (the hollow electric bass tones of Illum Sphere's 'Second Sight'), something more than movement and sound (a bus door closing, the laughter of a 'business' lunch), something more than Jasmine's performance. Undeniably powerful, jarring, even, and unceasing, a succession of jolts, a continuing choreography, perhaps none as powerful as the opportunity to reflect on a small answer - "Fine, thanks".
Karia has talent - a feature with Ben Whishaw is due to start filming soon - I had a dig through the notebooks and it seems I didn't catch his short Beat at the 2013 EIFF, and from the quality of this I'm sorry that this was the case. I wish to make clear that my discomfort with Work is testament to its quality. Film should prompt, jar, unsettle, and short film is fantastically positioned to do so - I hope bigger canvases beckon for all involved, because on this showing they are deserved.Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2018