‘Quit Job’ Review: Ben Stiller’s Office Thriller + Apple TV Is Amazing

Dan Erickson’s visualization of America’s callous work culture proves as thoughtful in its creative execution as it is fascinating to see.


In the middle “Quit“Debuting, senior manager Ms. Cobel (Patricia Arquette) is in the process of disciplining new department head Mark S. (Adam Scott). After dangling a carrot to no avail, she decided to pick up the stick. “You know, my mother is an atheist,” explained Miss Cobel, walking around her desk to stand in front of her confused subordinate. “She used to say there was good news and bad news about hell: The good news is that hell is just a product of man’s sick imagination. The bad news is that whatever humans can imagine, they can usually create.”

The vague but haunting threat is mostly lost to Mark, but it’s clear to the viewer. Lumen – the giant, mysterious corporation for which Mark and Ms. Cobel work – have created their own little circle of hell: the “severed” floor, where a select group of employees volunteer to split their memories in half. between what happens at work and what happens at Home. It means that when Mark starts his day sitting in the parking lot, crying non-stop, he no longer remembers why (or even cried) when he took the elevator down to the windowless toilet. of the office. A switch actually flips as he moves between floors, activating an implant in his brain that separates Mark from his life outside of Lumen. When he got home at 5:15 p.m., those memories were restored, but he later lost any memory of what happened underground.

Both a great premise for a conspiracy thriller and a strangely believable bit of sci-fi, the practice of severing is just a brilliant idea in a series built on from many people. Created and run by Dan Erickson, the Apple TV+ series showcases its own delightful imagination, from crafting a unique office environment to turning a twisty story into nine episodes that are curated. professionally calibrated. silent peak directing six of those entries (notably, the first three and the last three) with an unsettling symmetry; balanced and unbalanced layouts to reduce the inherent comfort of routine and uniformity. Combined with the surprising features of Lumen culture (nothing can help you prepare for parties) and meaningful narratives, “The Quit” condemns a corporate culture lousy while remaining suspenseful, enlightening, and very entertaining.

Apple TV + Adam Scott series severance

Adam Scott in “retirement”

Atsushi Nishijima / Apple TV +

It also takes full advantage of a talent pool. At Lumen, Mark joins Dylan (Zach Cherry), Irving (John Turturro), and rookie Helly (Brit Lower). Dylan was immediately recognized as too smart for his job. His desk is covered with company rewards — erasers (“mostly decorations, since we don’t have pencils”), finger traps, etc. — all earned on completion. ahead of time, all covered in Lumen’s blue and white branding. Irving, meanwhile, treats these perks as “baby” toys, preferring to realize his reward in a day of honest labor. According to the books and loyal to his Lumen lords, Irving still encounters strange things vision dream: black liquid spills from the walls of his chamber, covering his 80s computer monitor and keyboard, threatening to cover him along with his terminal.

Rounding off the Macrodata Refinement part is Helly. New to the team, she acted as a proxy for our initial, empathetic audience, asking many of the questions we wanted answered. What are they doing do at Lumen? Nobody know. Why did they decide to be cut off? No one will tell them. Who are they? They are all they are (Helly R., Mark S., etc.). The personal details of their outer lives were only revealed in mutual affection during the “health check,” but Helly wasn’t willing to wait. She tries to leave. She tries to quit smoking. But she couldn’t. Only “outsiders” (employees called while out of the office) can resign; “Innies” can ask to leave, but those requests are almost never granted. After all, if you don’t have to remember the worst nine hours of your day, why would you walk away?

Or even a theory. Claims like these are enough to turn even the most gullible individuals into a skeptic, but “The Quit” is clever in revealing what obstacles are posed by shady strategies. the company and what you cause yourself. Erickson’s story focuses on how much companies can get from their employees and how little is paid back, without leaving individuals completely affected. The result is a tense thriller that is constantly broken by uncanny humor and genuine humanity. Stiller’s contributions were immeasurable. His wit and irony are all in “Severance” – the movie that marks his second consecutive prison break after 2018’s “Escape at Dannemora” – but how his camera works with savvy production design (courtesy of Jeremy Hindle) that really stands out. He walked down an endless maze of white corridors. The way the partition walls slide up and down to trap workers in tight frames. The contrast between the timeless stuffiness of antiseptic office life and the coldness of a messy existence above ground. It’s an impressive, immersive design, if you’re turning the watch on or off.

Termination of Apple TV + Adam Scott office


Wilson Webb / Apple TV +

As the sequel progresses, the practice of cutting becomes more and more important to the series’ world-building. This procedure is controversial and growing in popularity. Lumen may have invented the mind-altering device, but other companies (and possibly governments) are finding ways to use it for their own people. But as the stakes associated with supposedly quitting success skyrocketed, so did each employee’s personal concerns. Scott, who played the soulless villain of the gutted company Life Magazine in Stiller’s 2013 film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” flipped the script and delivered the best of the bunch. career. Subtle, precise and always relatable, he imbues each version of Mark with distinct physicality, while maintaining their connection through innate curiosity and simmering frustration. It would be very easy to act as two parts; instead, Scott works to get the audience to see Mark as a single person. (Lower, whom we primarily consider Helly’s biological father, is also brilliant, and Arquette weeps at her enigmatic manager with a masochistic conviction.)

Whether you invest in the allegory, the character arc, or both, “The Quit” pays off. Compulsory on an episode-by-episode basis and unshakable between situations, with so many spinning ideas, so many moving parts, it’s easy to overlook the massive bounce needed to give the show clarity. clear. Erickson and his writing staff deserve a lot of credit. The season was clean and efficient; episodes range from almost 60 minutes to 40 sharp; people fool a lot, but they have earned. (Season 2 needs to be green-lit, filmed, and delivered to me immediately.) This is episodic storytelling that knows how to make the most of its episodic format.

If hell is just a place of man’s imagination, then “Quit” is easily one of its highest levels.

Grade A

“Severance” premieres the first two episodes on Friday, February 18 on Apple TV+. New episodes will be released weekly.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/02/severance-review-ben-stiller-apple-tv-show-amazing-1234699524/ ‘Quit Job’ Review: Ben Stiller’s Office Thriller + Apple TV Is Amazing

Olly Dawes

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