Paolo Virzi’s black comedy chronicles the daily life of Marta (Isabella Ragonese) who after graduating from college with honors is told that she has her “whole life ahead of her.” Unable to find an acceptable job, she settles instead on telemarketing a useless futuristic gadget that brings her €400 per month (“lavoro precario,” or precarious work, as it’s called in Italy). Meanwhile, her smart boyfriend escapes to the United States and high-paying work as scientific researcher.
Though the call center pays poorly, it stirs the pot with monthly awards and rounds of dismissals. The women employees must submit to mandatory morning motivational exercises while the men are incited through animalistic grunting. Marta’s colleagues break down in both funny and heart-wrenching displays: Marta’s counterpart, salesman Lucio (Elio Germano), refuses to have “loser” magic-markered on his forehead; the aggressive boss (Sabrina Ferilli) invites her “amici del cuore” to her spotless apartment for a party in which only Marta shows up; Marta’s blond-bimbo roommate is fired for her connection with a union worker and turns to prostitution to pay the bills (despite living with her young daughter).
Both the performances and the film have a theatrical feel. The action focuses mostly on the call center and the squalor of Marta’s shared apartment. But Virzi’s ironic message comes through clearly. Having your whole life ahead of you (“Tutto la vita davanti“…) doesn’t mean much if you don’t stand a chance.