A #MeToo Film from Israel
“Working Woman”, a new Israeli film explores the problems surrounding a grey area of sexual harassment at work. Orna (Liron Ben Shlush) recently started working in the real estate business. The work place seems to be good at first. Unfortunately there’s more than meets the eye with her married realtor boss, Benny (Menashe Noy). Instead of being a respectful person, Benny soon starts pressuring Orna into having sex. Like so many other men, he can’t see to keep his hands to himself.
As for Orna, her husband, (Ofer), has been working hard to start a restaurant business. They have three children so they badly need the money if they want to live comfortably. The restaurant struggles over the course of several months so Orna feels pressure to continue working for Benny. It is because of the struggles, it’s Orna who must bring home the check. All the while, she continues to pay the unwanted price in emotional
We see the film through Orna’s eyes and we see that director Michal Aviad is not afraid to take a risk in telling this story.
There’s a few things going on for “Working Woman”. One of which is the aforementioned issue of sexual harassment in the work place. The other of which are these young families who are struggling to live financially. If one does not have the money to afford a family, should they wait? This seems to be another understated angle that director seeks to explore in the film. It’s surely an issue affecting religious families more so than secular.
It was only a matter of time before we started to see the serious effects of the #MeToo movement be reflected on the big screen. Female filmmakers are no longer afraid of having to keep their voices silent. It’s in the best interest of the filmmaking industry, both Hollywood and foreign alike, to have this stories be told. We are reminded that sexual harassment happens in the workplace, too.
With the current climate surrounding the #MeToo movement and women bravely telling their stories of harassment and assault, this fictionalized account (which feels all too real) is more than topical. In fact, it could easily have been headlines.
Lead actor Shlush is well cast in her role as Orna and she is able to easily portray her character’s clear discomfort in her body language or even just a tense facial expression. In contrast, Noy is introduced as a charismatic individual, likeable and charming until he begins to abuse his power. Together this dynamic helps to bring this story to realistic life, and the seriousness of Orna’s emotional journey is well handled.
Orna becomes so traumatized and falls apart leaving her job, eventually confessing to her husband why she is so distraught. The only weak part of this very compelling story comes now as Orna fails to explain the circumstances properly to her husband and he therefore directs his anger at her and not Benny.