It is easy to mistake Eran Riklis’s latest film, The Human Resource Manager, recently previewed at Manhattan’s JCC, for a tale exclusively about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although the movie is set during the slew of 2002 Jerusalem suicide bombings, its message is far more subtle than initially meets the eye.
The film begins with a humdrum picture of bread emerging from a commercial bakery’s oven, and the audience is purposefully left wondering what could possibly interrupt such a ‘normal’ scene. Yet, an innocent whirr from a fax machine sparks a transitional moment in the life of the bakery’s HR manager when he learns from a tabloid reporter that a foreign employee, Yulia, has been killed by a suicide bombing and is lying unclaimed in a local morgue. The story then takes on an almost Kafkaesque quality as a series of bizarre events and characters band together to return the body to her hometown.
At the crux of this Israeli Oscar winning film is a glimpse into the lives of trapped and lonely people, as well as a narrative of a man’s journey to himself.