They say all publicity is good publicity—but try telling that to the HR manager (Ivanir) of Israel’s biggest corporate bakery, who’s caught in the middle of a PR nightmare. An immigrant employee was killed in a suicide bombing, and lay unidentified in a morgue for weeks; she might have been just another Jane Doe were it not for a company paycheck found on her. To counteract the negative image, the administrator is assigned to bring the woman’s body back to her hometown in Romania. Complications—in the form of an obnoxious journalist (Alfi) along for the ride, the victim’s feral-wastoid son (Silver) and horrible weather—prevent the journey from being a quick ’n’ easy jaunt.
There are several ways director Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree) seems like he might go with this setup: a satirical indictment of Israel’s social mind-set, a damning takedown of modern business, a hellish in-your-face tour of Eastern European exploitation. That the film finally settles on being a gentle, compassionate drama isn’t necessarily disappointing. But the way The Human Resources Manager meanders through its paces even after it picks a path, making awkward stabs at broad humor (they left the reporter behind again, tee hee!) before the round-robin round of healing begins, eventually makes the film feel like a long slog to Letdownsville. It’s undeniably humanistic; resourceful and well managed, however, are a different story.