Director: Eran Riklis
Starring: Mark Ivanir, Gila Almagor, Noah Silver, Guri Alfi, Julian Negulesco
Duration: 103 min.
The Human Resources Manager of Jerusalem's largest bakery is in trouble. He's separated from his wife, distanced from his daughter and stuck in a job he hates. When one of his employees, a foreign worker, is killed in a suicide bombing and the bakery is accused of inhumanity and indifference, the HR Manager is sent on a mission to make things right.
The Human Resources Manager is an Israeli film directed by Eran Riklis, and based on a novel by Abraham B. Jehoshua. It was Israel's official submission to the 83rd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. The film starts out in Jerusalem but mostly takes place in the Carpathian region of Romania.
Part comedic road trip and part serious drama, the film follows the titular character as he is sent to accompany the body of a worker killed in a suicide bombing to be buried in her home town. Interestingly, except for the dead worker none of the characters in the film are given real names. They are all referred to by their job or function, like "The HR Manager", "The Driver", "The Boy". I suppose there is some meaning to be found there, but the film never really gives us the chance to care about these - not quirky enough to be funny and not developed enough to be serious characters.
There is plenty of material and opportunity here to make a good film, a troubled man at a turning point in his life, a culture clash of differing languages and lifestyles, the cold ice covered mountains that they must travel through, an underground bunker complex built during the communist era, and a joyride in a decommissioned army vehicle. But all of that is squandered by a lack of relatable characters and no real chemistry between the players.
I have to give some credit though to the outcome of the film, it was rather unexpected and while it may not have been as moving as the director intended, it was a welcome twist.