The Manager Position
20 Jul 2022
Curtis Cook Jr., Jackie Hoffman, Karina Willis
Unemployed and afraid to tell his wife, Philip still returns every day to the abandoned office space of the company he used to work for. Most days he simply eats his lunch and passes the time, until one day he finds that he isn’t alone. As others arrive they begin to role-play an office, how long can this last?
The Manager Position is a charming short that has that something special about it. On the surface, it sizzles thanks to its lively soundtrack, slick camera movement, and charismatic lead performer in Curtis Cook Jr. But just below lies an unsettling truth. It alerts us to our need to conform to the office lifestyle. What more could you want than a job in the city where there is an opportunity to move up the ladder? Files, meetings, water cooler chat, an office romance, ‘world’s best’ mugs. These are our aspirations. A ‘normal’ life. Why?
There are plenty of representations in media that expressionistically exaggerate the modern workplace into a cold dystopia, see Severance, one of the more popular shows of the year. And there are others that seek to satirise it completely, like Office Space, or simply The Office. Boots Reilly’s Sorry to Bother You happens to do both. But the way in which writer-director Craig Trow seems to avoid tipping too far in either direction, and in the process create something ultimately more incisive, is merely by portraying office life as a fantasy, an ideal even. The imaginary company Philip manages is just as nameless and stereotypical in structure as those in dystopian fiction. However, when others are recruited to the company, there is joy and humour to be found in the fraternity of the staff. It plays on the dichotomy of the emptiness and unfulfilling nature of the day-to-day grind, and how, ironically, such a job can be used to define oneself.
The Manager Position is an entertaining and simultaneously haunting experience. A potent and well-crafted short with a great central performance.