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TIFF 2015 Review: Office

15 September 2015 / by Lauren Malyk (author)
 (photo: Office - Johnnie To, China/Hong Kong)
/ (photo: Office - Johnnie To, China/Hong Kong)

The Office is a musical about an office during the financial collapse. It’s a mixture of The Wolf of Wall Street and the classic Wall Street, if they were a Chinese musical. I know, it sounds like an impossible movie to make, but Johnnie To pulls it off.

To is usually known for his amazing climatic action films, but this time he said at TIFF's short Q&A he wanted to experiment with the concept of the musical and 3D film. Yes, it’s still a musical, so the characters are singing about their feelings but he mixes in perfect comedic timing and office politics in what’s supposed to be a somewhat boring setting.

As for the music, it was catchy but not super memorable. As of writing this review, I can remember two or three song tunes max. And the 3D was a cool idea, but I’m not sure it was utilized to it’s full extent, since the film is supposed to be more about the interweaving relationships between the employees.

That being said, the acting in this film is superb. At times, the singing assistants and secretaries reminded me of worker bees - all uniform in their actions, dressed to perfection and hypnotized by the idea of fortune and fame. All are willing to do anything to learn the secrets to success and aim to be the perfect example of an employee.

Meanwhile, we have a main cast of typical office characters like the eager employee, the newbie employee, the materialistic marketer, the workaholic, the office politics player, the CEO and his right hand.

It is worth seeing the film for the set design alone. Stories and worlds are presented through the use of beam lights in different colors, each highlighting the purpose and difference between the different spaces.

The message behind the story is to not lose yourself in your work. It’s about not losing your morals in the pursuit of ambitions and it’s definitely not about being the perfect worker bee.

9/10

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The author

Lauren Malyk

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