Hot Docs 2012: ‘The Job’ is resonant, wry, and unexpected

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The Job

Directed by Didier Cros

2012, France, 94 minutes

An audience watching The Job may be forgiven if they think, at first, that this documentary is about an elaborate practical joke. Ten job seekers engage five interrogators in a two-day group interview that involves absurd role-playing situations, questionable personality tests, and increasingly hostile questions, all for an unknown company and barely outlined job described only as ‘sales, with a managerial component’. But it isn’t a joke. The film isn’t Borat. As it turns out, real life is just more absurd than satire.

The film blends documentary with a reality TV show aesthetic, but not in an obnoxious way. After all, a job interview is a contest anyway, and Cros cuts away from the action frequently for quick observations from the job seekers. They make snide observations about their completion, defend their answers, and question the increasingly aggressive technique of their interrogators. Sharply juxtaposed with their polite, unsure, and harried performances in the group interview, the effect is funny in a soul-destroying way.

Every tedious detail analysed, every bit of contradictory job-seeking advice, and every hostile question asked is deeply resonant. The reason is clear: job-seeking is nearly universal and rarely a pleasure. What’s surprising about The Job is how it finds humour in a sober atmosphere and insight from an insipid process. It is successful because the situation should be fiction, but isn’t.

 

–       Dave Robson

 

Hot Docs runs from April 26th through May 6th. Visit the official festival website here.

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