With the current COVID-19 pandemic, we face a lot of uncertainty. It’s scary, and as someone who doesn’t currently have a job, seeing a short film like The Shift reassures me that everyone is currently going through something, and we just have to be there for one another. Written and directed by Laura Carreira, The Shift follows the morning of a young woman taking her dog for a walk. When her job agency calls her and says that she doesn’t have a shift, we see the consequences of temporary workers and how close they can be to poverty.
I loved how this film began with a simple dog walk. I spent the entirety of it gripped to my seat, worried that the ball would land near a dead body or the woman would slip and hurt herself. Looking back at it now, it’s funny to think that nothing on that level happened, yet something just as damaging did. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the twist, the moment that every film leads to, but to know that so many people live this film day in and day out really is quite heart-breaking.
Looking through the supermarket, the bright packaging and flavours were inviting, but to see our protagonist having to search high and low for anything they could afford just solidifies this idea that so many people live in poverty. To see more characters searching for the best prices and in the discount section was upsetting (it’s always a fantastic day when you find a bargain expensive food item), but truthful to our society and the fact that people often don’t know where their next meal is coming from and they can’t risk spending the extra money. We don’t know if the woman in the film is on her own, if she has to go home to starving children or a family she needs to support, and I appreciated that, keeping her anonymous to show that she could be anyone. To see someone so defeated really is shocking, and to know so many people around the world are put in the same boat everyday really makes me think how not much has been done to stop it. We live in a world of cancelled agency work and zero-hour contracts, but it’s impossible to live like this when money is the key element which keeps us spinning. To see a film so passionate about the topic really makes me glad that people will watch it and realise that they’re not alone, or how people less fortunate than them have to live.
The production really is great. I loved the cinematography, how it felt like the protagonist was against the world by only focusing on her, and we can thank Karl Kürten for that. I really thought the story and simple things like the style or costumes came together perfectly, to create a normal setting with a normal situation. I liked how it was heightened, but at the same time, it was kept how it would’ve been.
The Shift is a brilliant look at a vulnerable society, only getting worse day by day as no one stands up to try and change it. We can often feel alone with money troubles and worry, but if you’ve watched this and feel like the woman, it releases the idea that it’s us against each other, and puts in its position the knowledge that most of us aren’t coping, so we need to come together.
The 77th Venice International Film Festival runs from 2-12 September 2020