Bureacracy Collides With Compassion in "The Human Resources Manager"

Tender irony and dark humor abound in Israeli director Eran Riklis' latest account of bureaucracy colliding with burgeoning compassion. This follow-up to 2008's Lemon Tree, based on the novel A Woman in Jerusalem by A.B. Yehoshua, hits the road when the restless personnel director (Mark Ivanir) of a large Jerusalem bakery is forced by his employer (Gila Almagor) to accompany the body of Yulia, a slain former employee, to her Eastern European home. Once there, he's joined by the put-upon local consul (Rosina Kambus, who's quietly hilarious), her pliant husband, and the dead woman's surly son (Noah Silver). A muckraking journalist (Guri Alfi) known as the Weasel — the deceased is the only character called by name — also tags along to needle the brooding functionary. While the coffin-laden road trip echoes Faulkner's As I Lay Dying in its gradual accumulation of absurdities, the point is neither to underscore how death unravels the lives of surviving loved ones (indeed, it has the opposite effect here) nor redeem the titular hero but to reveal how respect for the humanity of others is a tenuously organic process. Like Mr. HR's growing regard for poor Yulia, Riklis' understated grasp of his story's wider implications pays rich dividends.

 
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