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TIFF 2021 Review: The Odd-Job Men – “An enjoyable experience”

An immigrant from Morocco spends a week probation working for a home repair company in Spain.

Mohamed (Mohamed Mellali) seeks employment with a small plumbing and electrical repair company in Barcelona which pairs him with an accommodating soon to be retired Pep (Pep Sarrà) and the obnoxious Valero (Valero Escolar).  The story follows each day of the week-long probation period which sees the three repairmen interact with characters who are as odd as the odd jobs that they must repair as well as with one another.  Pep embraces the role of being a mentor to Mohammed while nothing pleases with Valero which may be in part caused by racial prejudice.

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Time is in no hurry for those inhabiting the city of Barcelona and filmmaker Neus Ballús embraces the laidback mantra. Despite the probation being the narrative framing device, the focus is more on the characters rather than being plot-driven.  An interesting choice for transitions is to showcase the residents from the surrounding areas from a distance before returning to what is going on in the lives of the three leads both at work and at home.  Long takes make the viewer feel like an observer watching as events unfold and absorb the environments and character interactions.

The conflict is somewhat contrived between Mohamed and Valero but is not entirely implausible and the roommates of Mohamed seem to be just there to cause domestic unrest.  The relationship arc is standard fare so everything hinges on the cast being able to draw audiences into the lives of their characters.  There is enough of genuine emotion to override the more orchestrated moments to make this an enjoyable experience.

The 46th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 9-18, 2021, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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