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Movies: Il Padrone e l’Operaio [The Boss and the Worker] Review

The Boss and the Worker, or in it’s native tongue Il Padrone e l’Operaio, is a 1970’s Italian pseudo-political farce. The film is centred around a conflict between two men, one of which for roughly half the film has no knowledge of the issue. Our leads are Gianluca ‘Giangi’ Tosi the titular Boss and Luigi ‘The Cannon’ Carminati the Worker. The film starts with Luigi waking up and we are treated to what he is all about, women.

His small apartment is completely dedicated; ceiling, walls and eveMovies: Il Padrone e l’Operaio [The Boss and the Worker] Reviews his bar of soap, to the female form. He has an standing affair with his neighbour behind her husband’s back, and his well… everything has a forgotten bra left in or on it. Meanwhile we are treated to the life, if you can call it the that, of Mr. Tosi who has a pill for everything, except that. No matter what he can’t get it up; not with his wife, nor with his mistress(es). Tosi’s life is bombarded with stress, dealing with the day-to-day of the factory; phones, reports, and the effect conflict in the Middle East will have on the commerce (some things never change) not to mention the constant berating of his father-in-law, his predecessor at the factory, leaving him trapped in his wealth. We see this when the slight bit of luxury, a Rolls Royce, he has is forbidden to him to drive as it may make the workers, and the union, upset.

Before one sympathetic tear is shed for Giangi, we should look to his disposition. He’s obsessive and vindictive. At the sight of a car pulling in late his immediate reaction is to fire the individual, not caring who it is or why they were late, infact his resort to firing is his reserved reaction as he exclaims, “why can’t I kill workers? They are mine,”. It’s made clear Giangi’s issues are solely his own doing, whereas we see that the late worker was none other than Luigi, and we’re keyed into his expertise. Luigi is the companies maintenance worker, unlike The Boss Luigi is familiar with every facet of the factories, and the faucets they manufacture. He is the lawyer with bunny-ears, he’s so specialized everyone looks the other direction at his quirks, which when not using company equipment to cook and prepare his food is flirting and becoming well acquainted with his female co-workers. It’s revealed during the workers union that Luigi doesn’t care, he’s in a position where he can do whatever he wants, has little responsibilities and little stress. Tosi see’s that this worker has one thing he has never had, a happy life.

Thus begins the conflict. Tosi covets Carminati’s life. His ability to eat whatever without GI issues, to make it with women, to enjoy his life. This starts with competition, where Luigi comes out on top. Then at Giangi’s psychiatrist suggestion, emulation, the shrink actually coined my new favourite mantra “dicks hat to worry,” this proves impossible as the ivory tower Tosi’s been perched on is so deeply rammed up his ass that he can’t step to the level and see eye with someone that holds more socialized beliefes, even when she’s rarin’ to go. Finally, the last is destruction. Giangi tries to work Luigi to death, fantasizesabout castration and begins stalking. Eventually he feels the cure to his obsession would be social destruction, put Luigi in an unfamiliar situation and watch him fail. Tosi invites his enemy to a party on his yacht where his less refined qualities turns all the women off bruising the workers ego while raising Tosi’s. Victory was all but assured until Tosi’s sexually starved wife, who too has developed an obsession with The Cannon and his purported hyper-virility, meets Luigi.

The movie concludes with Tosi having a mental breakdown, seeing his foe in the face of everyone, including himself, and attempting to kill them. Tosi’s absence forces his father-in-law back to running the factory, finally seeing value in Giangi and wanting him cured and demanding a proposal from Tosi’s psychiatrist whose only suggestion was to kill The Cannon, though a joke the father-in-law takes it upon himself to serve Luigi on a silver platter to Tosi. The film conclude with Tosi’s thanking Luigi, revealing he snapped out of his delusion but has been acting to avoid going back to the hell that was his life.

To be honest for the first fifteen minute I expected this to be a sexploitation; I mean the era, the subject, the near cartoony style of humour, and the knowledge that no one does exploitation like the Italians set some expectations. But as it went on the political undertones grew into overtones. Highlighting the class divide in post fascist Italy and the figurative iron wall that separates the culture between the rich and poor. It’s class warfare, where the rich influence the game to their benefit, making their lives as easy as possible and leaving the maintenance to others who in turn learn how to game the system. Tosi isn’t suited to be either a boss or worker and Luigi is a specialist; he is too important to fire because he keeps the machine running but isn’t high enough to be held responsible for any of his action. Why be a king or a peasant when you could work middle management? I found this an enjoyable watch, silly, thought provoking, and perverted. If you like both Italian arthouse and exploitation I think Il Padrone e l’Operaio hits a perfect middle ground between the two.

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