Hard Labor (2011) Poster

(2011)

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7/10
Good work but only fully understood with some social background
matheusmagalhaes109 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Reading the professional reviews you can get he wrong impression about this film but make no mistake: this is one of those cases where you can only fully enjoy and understand its premise if you are immersed in the same reality where the film takes place. This is not like saying that it doesn't carry any universal meaning - it's quite obvious that it has a social discussion along the subtle horror atmosphere it creates... but what kind of discussion? Helena and Otavio are a middle-class Brazilian couple with one daughter. This is important: the person watching this movie without knowing about Brazilian standards of living may not recognize these characters as middle-class but rather poor people which is not the case. Otavio is getting older and lose his job to a younger co-worker. Helena, living the dream of entrepreneurship, opens a grocery store. Along with these two, there's Paula, a maid/baby-sitter who works for the couple. While Helena starts as a sweet and caring person, she turns soar when she starts to see herself as an "owner" and the person bringing money to the house, treating her workers pretty badly, including the maid who's also object of hostility from Otavio's upper middle-class mother. Our middle-class have two main beliefs: meritocracy (a supposedly rationalist organization of society based on merit despite the absurd economic disparity) and superstition (irrationalism). Helena, dealing with the several difficulties of being an entrepreneur, starts to believe that somebody is using dark forces to make her business go down: naturally one of her employees. From then on she gets more and more involved in this search for an explanation that excuses her for the fear of failure on being the owner of a store and the growing tensions with her employees that are product of her growing intransigence. Otavio, on the other hand, fears that he became obsolescent and too old for the market. He starts to become interested on self-help workshops to "empower" himself and "release the beast inside" so he can have a place in the jungle of the marketplace. This is another regional aspect: this kind of stuff is epidemic in Brazil, growing along with the process of deregulation of work and the intensification of precariousness in terms of labor rights and legislation. The message is simple: it's all up to you, whether you succeed or fail. Otavio already sees himself as a failure and the movie ends with an intense image of him shrieking out of desperation along with a bunch of grown men screaming like apes because a inspirational speaker told them to release their "primitive" side. These aspects may clarify the themes of the film in order to not be comprehended simply as a horror movie with social consciousness. It's a highly symbolic work that speaks directly to the Brazilian middle-class about their fears, their fantasies of power and their difficulty to cope with personal failure. For that matter, this a quite interesting and important work that can be enjoyed by all but only fully understood when you know these particular realities.
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8/10
A complex, intriguing movie
hof-425 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The original title is Trabalhar Cansa, or Work Tires You, a somewhat humorous expression translated as Hard Labor. The title suggests a comedy, but this movie is nothing of the sort. The first half is a tragedy happening everywhere today; Otávio, a man in his forties living with his family in Sao Paulo loses his well paid job and becomes unemployable or, at best, a member of the Gig Economy; his options reduce to temporary, low paid jobs below his level of training without security or benefits.

The movie shows the damage to Otávio's self image, and its consequences for Otávio's relation with his wife Helena. Helena was planning to open a grocery store at the time of Otávio's firing. She goes ahead with the idea but difficulties arise some expected, some of a very sinister sort, such as a grisly discovery inside one of the store's walls. At this point the movie veers into the horror genre and we suspect there is an unknown force working against the couple. At the end, we are back with Otávio trying to build up his confidence to find a viable job option and Helena struggling with her business, and we wonder if the horror episode was dreamed or imagined, or if it's a symbol of something hidden in the couple's past.

This movie is hard to watch at times; there is an edgy, uncomfortable feeling in most scenes and a sense of impending doom. The script by directors Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas is first rate, as are acting, production values and direction. A movie to consider.
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10/10
Not pretentious at all
marcossarno8 January 2020
Trabalhar Cansa never sets itself to be a horror movie, it doesn't toy with the genre's traditions nor assumes them.

The movie has its own logic, one that respects the greater theme of problematic infrastructural work relations, and does it so by successfully applying its concept to the filmmaking. The cards are all in the table, and the movie plays with them to the maximum effect.

By doing that, the darkness of it all becomes much more evident, necessarily so. What I like about it is that, although I don't consider it to be a horror movie per say (neither some kind of "anti-horror" or "post horror", whatever that means), the movie is never afraid to portray visually dark imagery, because it has the right motivations to do so, perfectly balanced.

The movie only gets so disturbing because its concept and theme is also horrifying. And I felt that a lot, it shows on the character's behaviors (basically every character arc is an identity or sanity loss), it shows on the directing (still images, but beautifully crafted and framed to maximum effect), even on the wardrobe (the maid's character).

I chose to give Trabalhar Cansa (Hard Labor) a 10/10 because it does what I enjoy most about movies, that being the everlasting consciousness, the feeling that the themes effectively affect the filmmaking and vice-versa - it gives me a feeling that exists a thinking person behind the film, thinking every step of the process to get the message accross. Brilliant.
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1/10
Pretentious bullshit
davilopes-cine21 October 2017
This movie is slower than an European art-house movie. As a horror, it doesn't scare one bit. The dialogue is stiff and the story is very vague. The actual "scary" parts would not scare a 8 year old child that pees in the bed every day and cannot watch the Teletubes cause the songs are too sinister. I could spend two hours just watching my bedroom wall and be more entertained. Watch if you're using drugs.
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