Director: Mani Haghighi
Fitting to his background as a philosophy major at McGill University, Iranian director Mani Haghighi’s curious, allegorical film about mid-life crises takes a strange twist with Men at Work. Four friends with diverse backgrounds, circumstance and family life find themselves strangely drawn to a large (and admittedly phallic shaped) rock standing on the edge of a mountain. For the rest of the film’s seventy-seven minutes, the men struggle with amateur physics, trying to create fulcrums and levers, using elbow grease and man-made machinery to try and force the rock out of its place and knock it into the water below in a quest of macho pride. Their peculiar goal begins first as a merely fun diversion but the men grow more obsessed as the film goes on—it seems that the rock represents the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss—the issues surrounding their aging bodies, the prospect of death, mid-life unhappiness and existential angst. The film will warrant much philosophical discussion and while some will definitely find it meaningless (it is after all about four men trying to dislodge a rock), those willing to look beyond the simple premise will come away with something much richer. Men at Work is a unique film to be sure and one of the most intriguing philosophical pieces of Iranian cinema in recent years.