Characters in 'Human Resources Manager' are too anonymous

2011-04-22T00:00:00Z Characters in 'Human Resources Manager' are too anonymousBY JOE WILLIAMS • Post-Dispatch Film Critic • • 314-340-8344

When the characters don't have names, that's often a clue that we're watching a movie about a dehumanizing bureaucracy. And a title like "The Human Resources Manager" adds more evidence to the file. But because we don't know or care much about the characters, this Israeli film never fulfills its potential as either an absurdist comedy or a humane drama.

The gruff and vaguely troubled manager (Mark Ivanir) works at a corporate bakery in Jerusalem. When an immigrant employee is killed in a bombing and her body goes unclaimed for days, an investigative reporter (Guri Alfi) shames the manager into burying the dead woman in her home country.

In the wintry capital of an unnamed Eastern European nation — if we look and listen real hard, we can deduce it's Romania — the manager struggles with the language barrier and stereotypical bureaucrats to track down the woman's sullen son (Noah Silver) and a truck that can transport a growing entourage to her distant hometown.

But even with incidents involving drunken locals, an underground bunker and a decommissioned tank, the film doesn't build the comic momentum of good intentions hurtling downhill in a strange land.

And by the time the pesky reporter and angry young Eminemski finally show their softer side, it's too late for them to earn our sympathy.

For "The Human Resources Manager," the performance review reads: high initiative but low execution.

"The Human Resources Manager"

Two stars (out of four) • Rating Not rated • Content Some strong language • Run time 1:38 • Language In Hebrew, Romanian and English with subtitles • Where Plaza Frontenac

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