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The Next Reel • Season 11 • Series: 10 Year Anniversaries • Hard Labor directed by Juliana Rojas & Marco Dutra

Hard Labor

"This place is a real find!”

Brazil’s economy has certainly had its share of ups and downs over the decades. The struggle to create a capitalist economy hasn’t been easy, and allowed for rich fodder for the filmmaking duo of Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra to write and direct a story about a middle class family struggling in the labor market. This film, Trabalhar Cansa or Hard Work in English, came out 10 years ago now. Does it resonate today? Does it resonate for people outside of Brazil (or Brasil, as Brasileros would write)? And do the filmmakers try to do too much – or too little – in their film? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our 10 Year Anniversary series with Rojas’ and Dutra’s 2011 film Hard Labor.

Hard Labor deals with a lot more than the labor market.

Like we ran into a number of times in our Horror Debuts series, Rojas’ and Dutra’s film is laden with metaphors and allegories. There are vicious barking dogs outside of Helena’s new store that threaten her when she’s trying to leave. There’s black seepage oozing from between the tiles in the back of the store. And let’s not forget the werewolf-esque body parts that Helena pulls from out of behind her wall. These elements give the film a definite horror vibe, but is that enough if the film doesn’t stick with the horror?

To that end, would it have been better if it stuck with the straight drama of our characters Helena, Otávio, and Paula and their struggles with employement instead of including these metaphors? By including them, does the film get muddled and become less clear on its messaging?

We go back and forth on these points because Pete didn’t like them at all and Andy liked them, though still felt they were a bit confusing.

But what about the dramatic story in Hard Labor?

This is where we feel the film excels. Watching the three main characters struggle with their jobs is the heart of this movie, particularly when Rojas and Dutra end the film on such a punch-in-the-gut moment. They each show an interesting transition over the course of the film. What did we think about them? How well do we care for them? And do we find any particularly interesting or less intriguing?

It’s an interesting film that never quite works as well as it should but still clearly shows a proclivity for a type of storytelling that it sounds like Rojas and Dutra have continued, both solo and together. It’s an interesting film to discuss even if watching it won’t be for everyone. Check it out and tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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