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Film Review: “Working Woman” (2018) ★★★★


What is sexual harassment? Why does it occur so often? Why should one continue exercising his power over someone who lacks it? Whether it’s because of economic instability or, in this case, women who do not have much physical power to resist men, a sad stat proves that women are much more likely to be victims of sexual harassment and most of the time find themselves in a vulnerable position from which the only way out some of them see is to become submissive. While that is not the complete case in Michal Aviad’s astounding “Working Woman”, however, it gives an interesting version of what leads to workplace sexual harassment and its sad implications.

What is sexual harassment? Why does it occur so often? Why should one continue exercising his power over someone who lacks it? Whether it’s because of economic instability or, in this case, women who do not have much physical power to resist men, a sad stat proves that women are much more likely to be victims of sexual harassment and most of the time find themselves in a vulnerable position from which the only way out some of them see is to become submissive. While that is not the complete case in Michal Aviad’s astounding “Working Woman”, however, it gives an interesting version of what leads to workplace sexual harassment and its sad implications.

Orna (Liron Ben Shlush) is a young woman with three children (Inbal, Yasmine, and Tomer). Her husband just recently opened a restaurant in which he works, but the expectations the family had is what the new business fails to meet. Orna lands a dream job with a former army superior, from the same base Orna served, Benny (Menashe Nov), who is now a successful real estate developer. The woman, first, agreed to work as his assistant. Soon, her boss promotes her to a salesperson, and even sees her as the only person who can sell a project to clients before it’s finished. However, soon the man begins feeling his power and slowly starts approaching her, thinking that, Orna is too dependent on him to say ‘no’ to his advances.

Just to confess, there’s no easy way to describe “Working Woman” without anger. However, as I should remain as objective as possible while I write this piece, in the meantime, I do realize the responsibility I carry on my shoulder to not have any influence on you, my dear reader, but rather allow you to decide yourself what “Working Woman” has to offer, its nuanced approach to explore workplace harassment and how a capable and intelligent woman becomes a victim to a powerful man who seemed nice, but only in the beginning. But once he took his mask off his face, he turns into a sad statistic of male bosses who begins taking advantage of his position in society, his ability to escape the judicial system to turn hard-working women into someone they never wanted to be.

“Working Woman” does what many films do not or do not want to – cross the line of normality, create a subtle situation of how workplace harassment begins, escalates and reaches to the point where something must be done about it. When we talk about “something”, that does not mean taking a gun and shoot the person down, not at all. It also does not go further in terms of police involvement. Because this film cleverly draws an image of a powerful man who is capable of closing any door for the woman who complains about him or goes against him. We do not know much about his powerful friends, but some scenes suggest he does and has way too many.

This film talks about a different form of punishment, and the trauma the family goes through caused by a lack of funds to support itself. But the most crucial part of this film is that things could have been avoided in certain cases, and things that could not, no matter how hard Liron Ben Shlush’s Orna wanted. At some point she says – “I don’t know what happened.” Those words alone tell a lot about how the same workplace harassment could end – but in the meantime, we know it never will, as long as the big gap between men and women exists – the gap that gives one more privilege and takes the same from others. And that’s an unfortunate reality the world has no choice but face it until words such as “Enough” will be said as loud as possible to be heard across the globe.

Theatrical DatesNew York City –  Wednesday, March 27 at the IFC Center, Marlene Meyerson JCC of ManhattanLos Angeles – Friday, April 12 Laemmle’s Royal, Town Center, and Playhouse.WORKING WOMAN will open in additional theaters nationally throughout the spring.

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