directed by Michal Aviad
Israeli director Michal Aviad delivers a compelling portrayal of ways that harassment so easily occurs.
This second fictional feature by Israeli director Michal Aviad is the latest in an award-winning career that includes 10 documentaries on subjects seen through a distinctly female lens. Her focus on women’s experiences of migration, ageing and rape has shown her commitment to highlighting stories about female struggle and empowerment.
Working Woman’s examination of insidious sexual harassment is unashamedly timely in the #MeToo era, and though it’s not flashy like Bombshell, the credible story and naturalistic, unobtrusive photography contribute to the portrayal of universally recognisable scenarios in which harassment can so easily occur. The film answers our tacit “but why didn’t she …?” and “how could he …?” by painting Orna’s predicament in a depressingly realistic way, with a script that is taut, well-written and at times gruelling.
Critically, the universally strong performances lend weight to the story’s realism. As Orna’s boss, Benny, Menashe Noy is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; his polite “mind if I make a comment?” about her hairstyle and the “professional” reasons he proposes she wear a skirt are illustrative of Benny’s tricksy and ultimately controlling MO. Ben-Shlush is wonderful as the self-contained Orna, whose inner strength is gradually chipped away after each compromising situation.
An excellent portrait of a sickeningly common and perpetually harrowing issue, Working Woman is completely compelling as it draws towards an unpredictable conclusion.
IN CINEMAS NOW
This article was first published in the March 7, 2020 issue of the New Zealand Listener.