“You’re a model employee.”
Taking a simple and straightforward approach, Nikos Labôt’s Her Job is clean in context, successfully capturing the essence of everyday life for a hard, working-class mother who wants nothing more than to provide for her family.
Her Job, at its core, is an in-depth and somewhat painful character study that encompasses the majority of working-class citizens. Marisha Triantafylludou’s Panagiota represented the lower and middle-class people of the world; those who struggle day to day and are always grateful for the opportunities they are given. This film is their story, and quite sadly, this story's result often becomes their fate.
Beginning with a basic, almost too easy job interview, Panagiota successfully lands employment with Cleaners Inc.; a company tasked with staffing labor workers to clean the new mall in town. However, what starts out as a new, secure income stream quickly transitions into a dire mission to please as Panagiota longs to satisfy and is in desperate need of validation.
As the film progresses and you witness the overtime, extra shifts, and pure fear of upsetting anyone with power, the sacrifices begin to pile up. Panagiota’s connection with her children starts to wain, as does that with her husband. Sure a new pair of pants puts a stall to any negative emotions, but money can’t buy happiness, and that is seen here.
What impressed me much about Triantafylludou’s portrayal is her art of simplicity. Never attempting to overdo or overthink, she stays the course, bringing forth a unique sense of authenticity that grips at your heart and leaves your mind spinning long after the credits roll.
As Panagiota’s friends at work begin to lose their employment status, and new faces are brought in to be trained by the veterans, you cringe at Labôt's likely foreshadowing. Sure Panagiota has learned how to drive the industrial vacuum, and sure she has taught the new girl how to operate it as well. However, in a world laden with short-term memory and a “what have you done for me lately?” mentality, there’s never enough to do to impress.
Panagiota‘s commitment to her job and her family is a sight to be seen. However, in reality, no human can keep up that level of dedication. Her days are hard on her mind and body - this before she makes it home to tend to her family. When an argument between her and her husband breaks out at home, you begin to question whether the sacrifices are worth it. When Panagiota gets called into her supervisor's office the next day, you are almost sure it isn’t.
Everything about this film isn’t great. It moves slowly at times and is occasionally hindered by monotony. Thankfully Her Job overcomes all that through its honest depiction. The film doesn’t just show us the negative. Mixed amid the toxicity of the daily struggle rests the leading incentive: friends and companionship. From a birthday cake to a coffee date, these women are experiencing hell six days a week. Fortunately for them, they get to do it together.