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A Per­fect Day; Only Yes­ter­day; The Re­flect­ing Skin; The Mes­sen­ger; Triple 9; Where To In­vade Next

This shaggy, like­able film from di­rec­tor Fer­nando León de Ara­noa chron­i­cles 24 ob­sta­cle- rid­den hours in the life of some in­ter­na­tional aid work­ers.

Set “some­where in the Balkans” in 1995, it could be de­scribed as a Sisyphean com­edy. The open­ing im­age of a bloated ca­daver be­ing hoisted out of a well, un­til the rope break, en­cap su­lates what fol­lows. Be­tween in­scrutable re­gional pol­i­tics, on­go­ing turf is­sues with the UN and land mines pre­vent­ing safe pas­sage, it’s a won­der th­ese work­ing­class al­tru­ists get any­thing done.

Our mot­ley crew con­sists of Mam­brú ( Beni­cio Del Toro), the weary vet­eran; B ( Tim Rob­bins), the manic hot- dog­ger; Sophie ( Mélanie Thierry), the new­comer con­de­scended to by the higher- ups; Damir ( Fedja Stukan), the stoic lo­cal; and Katya ( Olga Kurylenko), Mam­brú’s for­mer mis­tress, who turns up to eval­u­ate their mis­sion’s sus­tain­abil­ity. Much of the ac­tion con­cerns cop­ing with ab­sur­dity, try­ing to get from A to B in one piece, dodg­ing check­points, maybe help­ing a kid re­trieve his soc­cer ball.

The film is based on the book by aid worker Paula Farias, but the over­rid­ing theme feels kin­dred to León de Ara­noa’s Mon­days In The Sun, his 2002 film about un­em­ployed ship­yard work­ers, star­ring Javier Bar­dem. This is at bot­tom about how work – or the lack thereof – shapes our lives. 106 min­utes.

JOSÉ TEODORO

Beni­cio Del Toro and oth­ers show how work, or the lack

thereof, shapes our lives.

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