David and Àlex Pastor’s ‘The Occupant’, on Netflix, is a solid psycho-thriller about a man who loses his job and decides to fight back

Posted on October 17, 2020



Perhaps my connect with the protagonist was also due to the fact that I am middle-aged, too, and in a profession increasingly populated by youngsters who’d cost far less to hire.

It can be tough for middle-aged men in job interviews, especially one where your potential employers are probably younger than the length of your career. At the opening of David and Àlex Pastor’s The Occupant, ad man Javier (Javier Gutiérrez) is trying to sell himself to the people at a young, creative hot-shop. He shows them his most famous commercial, one of those sun-drenched 30-second stretches that have improbably happy families in impossibly scenic settings: “The life you deserve” is the tagline. But the commercial was made in 1998, and the “kids” interviewing Javier seem torn between the impulses to snigger and yawn. They say the job is beneath him. He says he doesn’t mind. But they were just being polite. The fact is that they don’t want him.

This scene made me flash back to Robert Benton’s Kramer vs. Kramer, where the Dustin Hoffman character played another middle-aged ad man who interviews for a job that pays him less than what he used to earn. It’s a lesser position, too. The interviewer asks, “Mr. Kramer, do you mind if I ask why you are interested in a position for which you are clearly overqualified?” Dustin Hoffman looks him in the eye and says, simply, “I need the job.” Those four words contain everything from embarrassment to a bruised ego to desperation to a certain fundamental truth about the way many of us live: it’s not just about the job, it’s about a certain kind of lifestyle.

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