|Die Frankfurt-Tipp Bewertung:|
|Regie:||José Luis Valle|
|Laufzeit:||Ca. 122 min.|
|FSK:||From 6 years|
For thirty years Rafael (Jesús Padilla) has been cleaning a light bulb factory in the Mexican border town of Tijuana. Now he's convinced he deserves to retire. Full of anticipation, he prepares for his last working day, only to learn from his superior that he is not entitled to a pension. Since Rafael, who comes from El Salvador, lives illegally in Mexico, he has to work until the end of his life. With seemingly stoic composure he accepts this bad news. But Rafael finds a way to take revenge on his exploitative employer…
Lidia (Susana Salazar) also lives in Tijuana and has been working there for three decades as a domestic servant for an elderly lady with a heavy income. Day and night Lidia is there for the sick woman, hoping that her sacrifice will eventually pay off. But when her employer dies, her beloved greyhound princess inherits her entire fortune. Only when the dog dies a natural death, the money goes to the employees. And so Lidia must continue to work - and this for a dog…
In his directorial debut "Workers", Mexican director José Luis Valle dedicates himself to the subject of wage labour in two parallel strands of action. That the protagonists share a common past, however, is only hinted at. Otherwise, the two stories have only their underlying theme in common. Both are simple workers who are not physically tortured by their superiors. But they are trapped in a system that claims them to such an extent that their will and independence are to be broken. They are simply to be obedient work drones until the end of their lives, who do not rebel and have nothing for which it would be worthwhile to rebel against the employer. They are trapped in a dreary everyday routine from which they simply cannot escape due to their social status.
To convey this, Valle uses two things in particular: an engaging visual language and stoic calm. While the former really brings some great, artistic moments to the screen, the latter makes the movie an extremely bulky challenge for the viewer's patience. The several minutes long scene, for instance, that shows the hustle and bustle on a street, is somehow fascinating because of the way Valle staged how life shifts more and more into the interior of the houses with the disappearance of the day. But to only convince on an artistic level is simply not enough. It also requires a dramaturgically stirring level and this is simply missing in this film over too long stretches.
This gives the impression that the actual story could have been told loosely in a short film. Stretching the whole thing over two hours just doesn't want to work. This is beyond any doubt in terms of craftsmanship and the pictures are really beautiful to look at. But what good is that if the entertainment value is so minimized by the sheer endless settings? And despite all the demands, a film should also offer a certain amount of entertainment in order to reach more than just a very small niche audience. Somewhere in "Workers" there are two stories with a lot of potential. Potential for effective social criticism, but also for evil humour and real emotions. But Valle has set his artistic ambitions so high that these interesting and exciting approaches are almost completely buried. In this way his film will be able to inspire at festivals and in the feuilleton. But in normal cinema operation "Workers" will have a hell of a hard time. Therefore: only for demanding arthouse lovers who attach more importance to visual aesthetics than to dramaturgy, worth seeing!
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