Masculinity and idiocy are put to the test in Mani Haghighi's wonderfully offbeat comic allegory about four middle-aged Iranian men on a ski trip who find a mysterious phallic symbol.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
“Based on an idea by Iran’s preeminent filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, writer-director Mani Haghighi’s Men at Work is a wonderfully offbeat comic allegory... Four middle-aged Iranian men in an SUV drive through the snowy mountains on a ski trip. After pulling over for a pit stop, they discover an abnormal, phallic-looking rock extending up from the cliff, which their testosterone-juiced instincts demand they push over. Like a Sisyphean story by Beckett, the stone doesn’t seem meant to budge, which further motivates the group to obsess over this futile task. Before long, others have come to prove their own prideful diligence, sign posts and trees are eyed for uprooting in case they might make good levers, and an old man relents to selling his donkey. The [Tribeca] fest guide synopsis suggests that the symbolism is political, though I concur with a certain feminist critic of prominence who suggested to me that it’s far simpler than that. At face value, the film reads just as persuasively as a satire of masculine idiocy.” — Aaron Hillis, Premiere