Film Review: The Human Resources Manager (2010)

Road movies are a tricky business. There are few things in life that are quite as invigorating as uprooting yourself from the banal circumstances of “everyday” life and heading out to unexplored territory. Unfortunately, the process of converting this experience to a cinematic format is rarely successful. The Human Resources Manager is no exception to this trend, failing not only to transcend the clichés that are intrinsic to the genre, but also in developing characters and a story that any rational audience can care about.

The story contained in this dry and strangely emotionless film focuses on the Human Resources Manager of the largest bakery in Jerusalem. After one of the bakery’s employees, a foreign worker, is killed by a suicide bomber, the bakery is accused of being inhumane and indifferent to its workers. In order to make amends, the owner of the bakery decides that the Human Resources Manager must transition into a sort of disgruntled altruist, and escort the body of the slain worker to her hometown in Romania. During the course of the journey our reluctant hero is joined by cast of colorful characters. As you might expect the road becomes a catalyst for growth and redemption.

While this film isn’t by any means a complete loss, with the harsh and unforgiving landscapes of Eastern Europe beautifully captured by the photography of Rainer Klausmann, the central problem of the film is the fact that we’ve seen all this before. What’s worse, the character of the Human Resources Manager is so completely dull that it is essentially impossible to engage with any of the problems he contends with throughout the story. In the scenes between the Manager and his child, who petulantly and continually whines about how he is essentially absent in her life, one wonders why this child even wants to see this bore, much less spend a significant amount of time with him.

With a generally uninvolving lead and a story that throws one annoying “oddball” character after another down your throat, The Human Resources Manager never comes close to proving its worth as a film. Certain atmospheric moments, such as where the characters move through a disintegrating industrial area and young “ragamuffins” dart in and out of abandoned buildings, are undercut by the emotional vapidness of the story. While this film could serve as a interesting travelogue of various Eastern European locations, we never get something that successfully gels or makes any sort of coherent comment on anything. It is riddled with cliches that make you start yawning far to quickly – such as the titular Manager, who doesn’t smoke initially, taking a puff before the story concludes. Because of the recycled plot and tired characters that compose the core of “The Human Resources Manager” it is only appropriate to also conclude this review with an appropriate cliche. Potential viewers must be warned that this particular cinematic road is best left untravelled.

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