This Israeli production from co-writer/director Michal Aviad has been embraced as a #MeToo-inspired drama, although it’s perhaps a little too subtle to fully hit those politicised heights.
However, it’s worth pointing out that Aviad’s calm, soapboxing-free handling makes the outrages here feel particularly powerful and shocking, capturing the frequently insidious nature of sexual harassment.
Orna (Liron Ben-Shlush) is a married mother of three young children whose husband Ofer (Oshri Cohen) has recently opened a restaurant, and the family is struggling financially. Orna decides to apply for a job in real estate development, becomes a project manager for the older, somewhat self-impressed Benny (Menashe Noy), and is thrown into a series of demanding tasks surrounding the building of a luxury condominium complex on the shore of the city of Rishon Lezion.
The married Benny seems friendly but professional and at first, and he gets away with his early suggestions that Orna, for example, dress in a more “classy” fashion, but soon he’s pressuring her to stay late, have dinner with him and awkwardly trying to kiss her. He later apologises and appears to have learnt his lesson, but then his coercive behaviour grows steadily more intimidating, and Orna has no one to turn to as she knows full well that Ofer will either blame her or threaten to kill Benny. And he winds up doing both.
Noy is strong here as Benny, a man used to getting what he wants, but Ben-Shlush is even better as Orna, who is initially embarrassed, then stunned, then numbed and afraid, and finally defiant.
It’s also interesting that this post-#MeToo offering comes from Israel and not the US, where so many have been rightly brought down by the movement and others are desperately attempting to save face and move on. But Hollywood is always slow…. and spineless.
Working Woman (MA) is in cinemas now