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A Decent Factory (Unrated)

Release Date: June 29th,2005 (NYC-Film Forum) by First Run/Icarus Films.
Directed by Thomas Balmes.

BASIC PREMISE: Nokia sends an Ethics and Environmental Specialist to examine the working conditions of one of their supplier's factories located in China.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This documentary starts out very promising, as if there is a clear and present danger or a problem existing in the factory that is linked to other worldwide problems. The closest observation that hints to a problem is that chemicals are stored near drinking water. It is never really treated like a serious problem, although it definitely has the potential to be a big one. A less severe problem is the bad-tasting cafeteria food. When did cafeteria food ever taste good to begin with? At least they get fed! There are barely any surprises. It is not surprising that the manual labor workers work over 12 hours a day with very little pay--at least they get a dormitory to sleep in. Yes, there are regulations such as deductions in pay for tardiness and the women aren't allowed to sleep over the men's rooms. Big deal! Nothing to complain about. The real question, which isn't really answered, is what makes this factory, among many others, worth the time--and patience-to observe?

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Some of the interviews with the workers are honest, but they don't amount to much and there aren't enough interviews to get a good picture of what they truly feel like. The ending--or conclusion--could have been so much more, but unfortunately it includes a re-cap of the observations and then a "good-bye". The last shot in the movie is a clear example of the pointlessness and meandering of filmmaker. In that shot, the specialist walks her dog on the snow in her cross-country skis and covers her dog's feces with snow. Not a very inspiring last impression.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough controversy/problems and the conclusions are dull.


THE BOTTOM LINE: A promising start ends up a mess with too many observations few of which are surprising and not enough analysis.


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