Things are tight financially for Orna (Liron Ben-Shlush) and her family with her husband (Oshri Cohen) struggling to get his new restaurant off the ground. Embracing the opportunity to be the breadwinner for the household, she lands a job at a real-estate development firm. Quickly proving to be a valuable employee, Orna finds herself in a difficult position when her appreciative boss Benny (Menashe Noy) starts to make inappropriate advances.

Tackling the subtler aspects of sexual harassment, director Michal Aviad’s Working Woman captures the ways in which women must often endure frequent abuse of power to provide for their family. As Aviad shows throughout the film, many of the violations, including subtle comments about Orna’s wardrobe and turning off the lights when she is working late, are portrayed as “jokes” in Benny’s eyes. However, it is clear it is all part of the long game Benny is playing, getting more aggressive with each encounter.

Offering a realistic portrayal of harassment, one devoid of the big showy moments that other films of this nature would employ, Working Woman opts for a more muted payoff. When Orna reclaims her power, it is not so much a fist pumping moment as it is a quiet exhale.

Through the strong performance by Liron Ben-Shlush, Aviad’s film effectively conveys how the onus is often on the victim to both carry the shame of the incidents and justify why they didn’t prevent the advances. Forcing the viewer to confront the subtle and systemic nature of harassment, Working Woman is a necessary conversation starter.

Thursday, September 13, 9:30 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sunday, September 16, 9:15 AM, Scotiabank