Portuguese director Pedro Pinho and a largely non-professional cast face up to the economic crisis with guts, humour and even the occasional song in this entrancing, original and inventive film about the fate of a suburban Lisbon elevator manufacturer in our era of deindustrialisation.
When the Fataleva lift company runs into financial difficulties, the management sells off its machinery in the middle of the night and attempts to cajole its employees into taking lump sum payouts. Some do, but the remaining workers band together to occupy the factory in an effort to protect their jobs. When they visit the head office and find it abandoned, presumably owing to the company’s insolvency, they discuss the possibility of continuing to work on a self-organised basis.
With echoes of Godard at his most political and comparisons with Miguel Gomes’ Arabian Nights trilogy, this is by no means a straightforward social realist work. Shot in beautifully grainy 16mm, the film unexpectedly morphs from a vérite-like drama into a neorealist musical to construct a brilliant and unforgettable reflection on the plight of the working classes and how traditional employment roles are shifting, whilst at the same time questioning the very tenets of our capitalist society.