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Juha (Tommi Korpela) is the middle-aged father of two and the husband of a depressed wife. Too afraid to tell his depressed wife that he has lost his job as a construction worker, Juha tries to make a living by offering his services to private customers, with little success. When he's contacted by a slightly older woman who turns out to want more than just the reconstruction of her living room, Juha secretly joins the sex industry in to be able to support his family. This provides the setting for a story about the responsibilities of a family man and shame.
Movies about the sex industry tend to fall into four main categories. There are moralistic tales about the depravity and dangers of the industry, exploitative movies that use the theme as an easy excuse for excessive nudity, light-hearted comedies about the liberation and empowerment through open sexuality, and realistic stories about the cruel and abusive nature of prostitution. Strangely enough, Miehen Työ doesn't really fit into any of these categories. On the contrary of what one might think after reading the summary, it's a remarkably un-erotic film. The theme of male prostitution isn't the focus of the film, but a mere extension to the net of lies Juha spins when he tries to hide his family the fact that he's unemployed. This story isn't about sex - it's about humiliation and shame that stems from Juha's failure to do what he believes is expected of him. What's a man to do when he can't even do his duty? Ultimately, the movie becomes a study of the roles of a man - or the job of a man, as the title puts it. Is it really more important for a good husband and a father to keep the money coming than to actually be there for his family when they need him the most?
Overall, Miehen Työ is a bleak, bleak movie about the harsh reality of everyday life. It isn't light-hearted entertainment, but I personally enjoyed it. Tommi Korpela is fantastic in the lead role, portraying the everyman who paradoxically degrades himself to preserve his pride. I also liked Jani Volanen as Juha's troubled best friend Olli, who discreetly tries to replace Juha by spending time with his family when Juha himself is gone.
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