Pitched somewhere between Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and the 80s Kiwi shaggy dog story Carry Me Back, this unassuming absurdist Israeli feature was very well-received in its native country, but may have trouble winning hearts on this other side of the world.
The story's impelling event is the death of a woman innocently caught up in a suicide bombing. Quite how that brings shame on her employer eluded me, but in the film it's enough of a scandal to excite the interest of a tabloid journalist and throws the employer - Jerusalem's biggest bakery - into damage-control mode. The functionary of the title (in a presumably symbolic gesture, the dead woman, Yulia, is the only character with a name) embarks on a fool's errand: to return Yulia's body to her home in some unspecified post-Soviet hellhole (the location is Romania).
The change of scene at the film's mid-point is accompanied by an abrupt shift in style. The second half recalls the pointed comedies of the great Serb, Emir Kusturica, or even a geographically confused Fellini, particularly when the funeral cortege transfers from a Commer-like van to an armoured car.
The subtext - that the put-upon title character has to learn patience - is more than slightly obvious and the way things end up was as much of a mystery to me as the way they started. But it's a kind-hearted and technically accomplished piece of work from the director of the handsome and impressive political allegory Lemon Tree which played here a couple of years ago.
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Cast: Mark Ivanir, Gila Almagor, Guri Alfi, Noah Silver
Director: Eran Riklis
Running time: 103 mins
Rating: M (offensive language) In Hebrew, Romanian and English, with English subtitles
Verdict: A film of two halves Mark Ivanir stars in The Human Resources Manager.