Monday, 21 September 2015

Film Review:- Import/Export (2007)

Bit o' foreign cinema here for ya's all...

Import/Export is a 2007 film made by Austrian director/producer Ulrich Seidel, and follows the lives and changing fortunes of two individuals, an Austrian man named Pauli and a Ukranian woman named Olga, both of whom end up in each others countries whilst trying to get themselves out of various life related problems. The film cuts between the two unrelated stories periodically to show important plot developments as they go along.

Both stories show the everyday struggles of people trying to find work and make money to live on, even when they are at their lowest. For example, Olga takes a job working as a "camgirl" for a seedy internet porn site, and Pauli ends up trying to scam money from people in the street by claiming he lent them money while they were out drinking.
The thing is though, the film shows what seems to have become a norm for people who struggle to find work in this day and age, namely a job opportunity suddenly appears for both of them which seemingly offers a way out of their drudgery, however these wonderful, magical jobs end up vapourising quickly. In Olgas case, she is offered a job working as a housekeeper in Austria, and in Paulis case, he is offered a job installing gambling machines in the Ukraine, and in both cases, something, call it fate or simply bad luck, see them both getting the shitty end of the stick for following the opportunity through.

The film does a really good job of capturing the every day drudgery of modern life, from the scenes set in the porno studio, where its quite clear all of the camgirls working there are bored as fuck with their job and nothing is half as glamorous as what you'd think it is, to the scenes in which Pauli wanders the streets of Vienna bored and trying to scam or steal money from people to pay back what he owes to various unsavoury characters. One particular bit, which probably everyone will be familiar with, is a sequence of scenes in which Pauli and Olga receive "inductions", Paulis while on an insulting "back to work" type course at the jobcentre, and Olgas having to listen to an overly long and excruciatingly detailed presentation about the correct use of cleaning cloths.

Even though this film is terminally depressing, its one of those films that you watch with a morbid sense of curiosity, as it approaches the subject matter with a no holds barred attitude. When Olga ends up as a cleaner in a geriatric hospital, they don't hold back in showing what happens when you get dementia. When Pauli ends up visiting an East European romany settlement on business, they have no qualms about showing how awful the living conditions there are, nor what people will do for money.
Don't be expecting big laughs form this film, because there aren't any, the film goes to great lengths to show how ordinary people get treated like shit, and how more often than not the concept of the "happy ending" is only the stuff of fantasy.

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