Working Woman: a movie review by Toni Susskind

September 25, 2019 by Toni Susskind
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Written by Michal Aviad, Working Women is a powerful movie that highlights gender exploitation, by turning the spotlight on sexual harassment in the office.

Orna (Liron Ben Shlush) is a wife and mother of three who is trying to re-enter the work-force.  Her husband has just opened a restaurant and the couple are finding it difficult to make ends meet. When Benny (Menashe Nov) takes a chance on the unqualified Orna, hiring her as an assistant, she and her husband see the job as a great opportunity.

Embracing her role in the real estate industry, Orna works long hours at the expense of her family, often coming home late, well after the children have eaten and are ready for bed. Her boss initially appears to be a nice guy who wants to mentor his employee, however, as the movie plays out, we begin to see a manipulator who enjoys playing predatory games.

Staying late at work one night, Benny tries to kiss Orna. When she rebuffs him, he apologises profusely, swearing it will never happen it again. For a period of time Benny behaves himself, however, his actions belie his promises. Whilst working late another night, Benny turns the lights on and off, scaring Orna. She is shaken by his irrational behaviour, however, he turns her fears against her, asking, “What’s the matter, can’t you take a joke?” His lack of empathy shows a manipulative man, who has probably done this many time before.

The movie is a snapshot of inequality in real life. The audience sees how easily Benny, the holder of all the power, manipulates his female employee into an untenable position. Seen from an outsider’s point of view, his actions could be interpreted as harmless and unintentional, yet we know this to be untrue. His behaviour systematically undermines the self-esteem of his co-worker whilst highlighting the misogyny that often exists in a predominately male workspace.

Working Women is a disturbing yet fascinating depiction of society and double standards.



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