DIRECTOR: Marcelo Piñeyro | WRITERS: Mateo Gil, Marcelo Piñeyro | CAST: Eduardo Noriega, Eduard Fernández, Najwa Nimri, Ernesto Alterio, Adriana Ozores, Carmelo Gómez, Pablo Echarri, Natalia Verbeke | Spain/Argentina
On a day when mass anti-globalization protests against the World Bank and IMF have shut down much of the financial/corporate district in Madrid, seven business executives arrive at the headquarters of the Dekia Corporation for the final round of interviews to fill an executive position. The seven are led to a conference room where, guided by messages sent by computer and delivered by a secretary, they are subjected to “the Grönholm Method” — we’re told it’s a psychological testing regimen developed in the post-WWI German military and later refined in corporate America — in which the applicants are tested in how they act and react with each other as they work to uncover each others’ weaknesses and strengths. “Losers” of each round are eliminated from consideration for the position. To up the ante, the applicants are informed that one of their number is actually a mole and it is up to them to figure out who that person is. If this sounds gimmicky, it is, and the mechanical plot ticks along with one contrived twist after another. Director/co-screenwriter Marcelo Piñeyro has done nothing to open up the original play, El mètode Grönholm by the Catalan playwright Jordi Galceran, essentially confining the movie to the conference room and adjoining restrooms — the mass protests occurring just downstairs are briefly heard during what must have been the stage play’s intermission, but otherwise do not intrude on the action — with the result that the acting is put into high relief. Thankfully, all of the actors were able to create characters that, if not fully rounded, were not the cardboard cutout “types” they were written to be. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the actors — I was especially impressed by Najwa Nimri, Eduard Fernández, and Carmelo Gómez, all new to me — I probably wouldn’t have finished watching the movie.