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Il Posto

IL POSTO
DVD region 0. Mr Bongo Films.

Also known as The Sound of Trumpets, Ermanno Olmi's much-regarded Italian movie from 1961 will probably disappoint most viewers who come to it with expectations based on its reputation. While by no means a bad film, this is slight and somewhat unsatisfactory for the most part.

The story follows Domenico (Sandro Panseri) as he heads out of his small town – the sort of run down place that you’d only find in Italian films of the period – and head to Milan, where he applies for a job with an unnamed conglomerate. During the bizarre tests that applicants are made to undergo, he meets a pretty fellow job seeker Antonietta (Lorenada Detto) with who he a mildly flirtatious, somewhat awkward afternoon. The pair of them are hired, Antonietta in the typing pool and Domenico temporarily working as a messenger boy until an admin position opens up.

While touted by some as a comedy, Il Posto is decidedly short on belly laughs – or any other sort of laugh for that matter. Where it works as a satire is in the portrayal – exaggerated but all too convincing – of office life, a monotonous, seemingly pointless existence. It’s likely to be an alien view of work for most people today, but anyone who is stuck in a dull job that bores them silly will still be able to relate.

Il PostoThere’s much to admire in the film, mostly little touches – the convincing burgeoning relationship between the two, the social awkwardness, the soulless world of corporate life. Panseri is excellent as the shy, seemingly terrified young man forced out into the working world (he has had to abandon his education and career dreams to help his family pay the bills), and Detto seems sweet enough for anyone to understand why he’d fall for her.

But the film is crushingly slow to begin with and frustratingly fizzles out in the final act – without giving away too much, let’s just say that the direction the film seems to be heading in fails to materialise. In the tradition of neo-realism, maybe that’s fair enough – this is a slice of life and you have to fill in the gaps yourself. But that doesn’t make it any more entertaining.

I certainly didn’t dislike this film; but it failed to live up to its weighty reputation. Worthwhile for fans of early Sixties Italian cinema, certainly, but likely to be a struggle for the less committed viewer.

DAVID FLINT

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