Review: Il Posto – A Steady Job
by Marta Bałaga
- Mattia Colombo and Gianluca Matarrese’s documentary is a tiny film about a tiny dream, homing in on Italian nurses in search of stable employment
Il Posto – A Steady Job [+see also:
interview: Gianluca Matarrese and Matt…
film profile], recently screened at both Visions du Réel and Hot Docs, is a tiny film about a tiny dream. Its protagonists only really want one thing: a job. They want to earn money doing something they know how to do, something they studied for, and hopefully feel secure for once in their life. But that’s the thing about dreams – they are hard to come by, no matter their size. The way these people see it, and actually brutally point it out, they may as well be talking about winning the lottery. Someone is bound to get lucky, but hey – it probably won’t be you.
If it sounds a bit dark, that’s because this film, directed by Mattia Colombo and Gianluca Matarrese, knows the drill only too well. As Italian nurses, mostly from the south, take their night buses to sit a public exam in order to win a stable position, they know the odds are not in their favour. But what’s the alternative, really? Unemployment, frustration or perhaps another occupation, as one of the characters, a trained nurse, is now behind this bus-to-exam business. But he also has dreams and finds it hard to completely let go.
Colombo and Matarrese still try to make sure that this story doesn’t come off as too depressing to stand, however – these people might feel resigned or plain bitter, but they also try to keep their heads high and laugh it all off. They chat with strangers, sharing tips and trying to forget for a moment that they are their competitors, too. Ultimately, it’s a road movie, rarely leaving the vehicle and observing the changing moods on board. Still, it’s crucial to see the actual exam at the end in order to realise just how difficult, or some might say crazy, this endeavour really is. Seeing this mass of people, all equally determined, is overwhelming, to say the least, but they just keep on walking. With their family members waiting patiently in cars, or tending to newborn babies.
While a local story, underlining existing divisions between the north and the south, Il Posto – A Steady Job manages to say something about the state of healthcare – some stories recounted here echo the recent Finnish film Ruthless Times: Songs of Care [+see also:
interview: Susanna Helke
film profile] – but also today’s workplace in general, particularly in the post-pandemic world.
It’s one thing to get a job, but quite another to hold onto it. There is talk here of those “lucky” enough to get something, anything – the fact that it’s underpaid, temporary or doesn’t provide basic benefits be damned. That’s how you open the field for exploitation: by making sure nobody will ever complain or ask questions, simply because they are too petrified of being left with nothing at all and having to board that night bus again, with the concept of a “steady job”, something so basic and boring, drifting further and further away into fantasy land – like a tale that parents might end up telling their children one day. “Once upon a time, you would study and then get hired, work steady hours and feel safe, and then retire. But not any more. Good night!”
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