Alain Tanner's 1976 comedy Jonah Who Will Be 25 In The Year 2000, screening here as part of a series on the Swiss filmmaker's radical work, has a rapidly evolving plot following Swiss citizens living or working in Geneva amid a recession that lowered wages and ramped up inflation that followed from widespread civil unrest in 1968. Workers have adapted to the economic conditions accordingly: a laid-off printer becomes a farmhand and discovers he loves the work, a history teacher lectures on the inevitability of capitalistic collapse to his eager students, and a grocery store clerk steals food for her retired friend. The title itself expresses the sense that the movie and its citizens are solving an equation with a given event and unknown variables, which, the audience realizes with some mental math, is the birth of Jonah, who provides hope as a human as yet unaffected by history or culture.
A rousing speech given by the history teacher, utilizing sexual innuendo as he describes time as a long string of sausage, explains much of the film. He argues that people trapped in cycles of history are necessarily blind to their own place in reality, as the passage of time twists away from their perception. So, he brings in his acquaintances to explain to the class first-hand their own predicaments, like his lover, the grocery-clerk, who is forced to live in France to avoid high taxes and explains to the kids that she doesn't like her job. As the eight deeply fleshed-out characters meet, collaborate, and make love through a dense web of personal connections, Tanner draws out humor from absurdity and everyday conversations, between both strangers, optimistic youth, and loved ones. In its non-traditional plot structure, Jonah is a tedious film—but in the same way life is tedious. And in the way life is worth living, Jonah is worth watching. —Reid Kurkerewicz