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Office shines light on cut-throat culture

Festivals

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A bad day at the office for most of us can quickly be erased with a bit of downtime or a post-work drink.

Not so for the unlucky folk in South Korean director Hong Won-Chan’s Office. Things are a little more dire for a team of hapless sales reps as they race to finish their monthly reports amid a declining market.

The unassuming but very diligent Mr Kim takes to his family with a blunt instrument in the opening scenes, and then goes missing. The office is soon beset by a series of strange and gory events, suggesting that Mr Kim has some unfinished business.

The diminutive intern Lee Mi-rae (Ko Ah-Sung, the former child star of Korean blockbuster The Host and more recently in the US-Korean action flick Snowpiercer) stands by, all wide-eyed innocence. Mi-rae suffers the indignity of being bullied by her colleagues all the way up the office hierarchy. If workplace relations weren’t necessarily HR-friendly in this office before Mr Kim’s event, they soon take a desperate turn for the worse.

This dramatic thriller is the directorial debut of screenwriter Hong (Confession of Murder), and his experience shows in the taught, tense script.

The cast all put in strong, believable performances and the surprises keep coming.

In a brief Q&A following the film, director Hong spoke about his use of everyday characters as a great starting point for exploring the reaches of human behaviour and the descent into violence.

Hong’s Office gives a provocative insight into the cut-throat corporate culture that only rewards long hours and the endless churning out of meaningless sales data. It’s only a matter of time before someone wigs out. Big time.

Office screens again tomorrow, October 20, at Palace Nova Cinemas as part of the Adelaide Film Festival.

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