The protagonist Javier’s desperation underscores the elemental fact about how many people reside: it’s not simply concerning the job, it’s a couple of sure form of way of life.
It could be powerful for middle-aged males in job interviews, particularly one the place your potential employers are in all probability youthful than the size of your profession.
At the opening of David and Àlex Pastor’s The Occupant, advert man Javier (Javier Gutiérrez) is attempting to promote himself to the individuals at a younger, artistic hot-shop. He reveals them his most well-known industrial, a kind of sun-drenched 30-second stretches which have improbably pleased households in impossibly scenic settings: “The life you deserve” is the tagline. But the industrial was made in 1998, and the “kids” interviewing Javier appear torn between the impulses to snigger and yawn. They say the job is beneath him. He says he does not thoughts. But they had been simply being well mannered. The truth is that they do not need him.
This scene made me flash again to Robert Benton’s Kramer vs. Kramer, the place the Dustin Hoffman character performed one other middle-aged advert man who interviews for a job that pays him lower than what he used to earn. It’s a lesser place, too. The interviewer asks, “Mr. Kramer, do you mind if I ask why you are interested in a position for which you are clearly overqualified?” Dustin Hoffman appears him within the eye and says, merely, “I need the job.” Those 4 phrases comprise every thing from embarrassment to a bruised ego to desperation to a sure basic fact about the way in which many people reside: it’s not simply concerning the job, it’s a couple of sure form of way of life.
And Javier desires to keep up his way of life. He lives in a stunning condo complicated, and his extra practical-minded spouse (Marga, performed by Ruth Díaz) says, “The rent here sucks us dry every month.” Javier refuses to contemplate shifting. “It’s our house,” he says. Marga says, “They’re four walls, Javier. That’s it.” He agrees reluctantly to maneuver to a constructing that diminishes his “lifestyle” within the eyes of others, however the older home now turns into an obsession. We realise that Javier has outlined himself by the power to afford that condo, and now he’s diminished in his personal eyes. And one thing snaps.
After months of rigorous artwork cinema (which is often what you get whenever you search for “world cinema”), it was enjoyable to look at one thing like The Occupant. It’s a psychological thriller that’s trashy sufficient to ship these psychological thrills, but deep sufficient to make us actually care concerning the “bad guy”.
One of probably the most shifting scenes within the film has Javier enter his former condo utilizing his set of keys, and taking a look at how a brand new household has made his house theirs. Almost as an act of defiance, he snacks on their meals. He takes a dump of their rest room. Technically talking, he’s a harmful stalker, a house invader. Emotionally talking, although, he’s a tragic man with critical letting-go points.
Perhaps my join with Javier was additionally because of the truth that I’m middle-aged, too, and in a career more and more populated by children who’d price far much less to rent. What if I discovered myself out of a job? Sometimes whereas watching a movie, a parallel movie retains working by way of your thoughts, and when Javier barges into an AA assembly (for causes I received’t disclose), his speech is each psychotic (within the context of this explicit story) and philosophical (for these of us interested by the bigger themes hidden beneath this explicit story).
This is what he says: “I was really lost [last week], groping around with nothing to hold on to. But not anymore. You really helped me. Seriously. Now, I have a goal, a project I am going to put all my energy into. Yes, because you realise… At least in my case, I realised my real problem was apathy. You get comfortable, stop giving your best, and one day, they say you are old, you cost too much, and you find yourself out on your ear. But not anymore. I am done watching people enjoy things they don’t know how to appreciate and don’t deserve. So from now on, I’m going to grab life, my life, by the horns, without asking for permission or apologising.”
Of course, I hope I by no means attain some extent the place I seize life “by the horns” the way in which Javier does. Slowly, The Occupant reveals why it’s named that means. Javier desires not simply to re-occupy his previous home, but additionally “occupy” the household of the person who’s now residing there. Remember the tagline of the advert he offered firstly? “The life you deserve…” Now re-read the speech above, particularly the half the place he says he’s sick about “watching individuals take pleasure in issues they don’t know easy methods to admire and don’t deserve”. He turns into Travis Bickle for the white-collar set, decided to dispense vengeance to the “undeserving”.
Okay, Taxi Driver could also be too lofty a comparability for what’s a way more fundamental movie. It’s simpler to achieve for Fatal Attraction (spurned lady tries to “occupy” the person’s household) or The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (a traumatised lady “occupies” the house of the girl who prompted her husband to die by suicide) or Single White Female (a lady “occupies” the identification of her roommate) — solely right here, the occupier is a person.
The premise is all of the extra chilling as a result of it might occur to any of us. You are denied one thing that you simply really feel you deserve. And so, you resolve you’ll go to any lengths to make issues “right” once more.
At one level, Javier’s deceit is found by the gardener at his previous condo complicated. The man blackmails him. He desires a pair of underwear belonging to the little lady of the household that’s moved into the flat Javier used to reside in. Javier tells him he’s sick. The man laughs. He says, “Definitely. Do you think I didn’t know?” The implication is clear. Who are you to guage me? Javier might not be a paedophile however he’s sick in his personal means, and what’s actually harmful is that he doesn’t realize it. Given that the entire movie is about what one deserves, chances are you’ll surprise if Javier finally ends up with the punishment he so clearly deserves. I received’t say, however the closing scenes are oddly inspirational. You don’t wish to ever be Javier, and but…
The Occupant is streaming on Netflix.
Baradwaj Rangan is Editor, Film Companion (South).
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