THE COFFEE TABLE (2022) Review by Steve Kirkham

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THE COFFEE TABLE (2022)

4 stars
Second Sight Films. Digital 20th May

THE COFFEE TABLE (La Mesita del Comedor) from Spain, is one of those films which you can’t say too much about – or your spoil the surprises in store, but it is also a hard one to recommend as I suspect as many people will hate it as embrace it. I loved it.

Jesús (David Pareja) and Maria (Estefania de los Santos) are in a furniture sales room. They have just had a baby, after many years of trying it seems. The sleazy, pushy salesman is attempting to convince them to buy a rather garish coffee table that “will change your life for the better”. You just know that isn’t going to be true! For some reason, Jesús is desperate to purchase the tasteless piece, which supposedly has an unbreakable glass top! Despite his wife’s protestations he purchases the expensive object – it’s the only thing he has been allowed to choose for their apartment. Things are clearly tense between the couple.

When he is later putting the table together, Maria has to go to the shops as they have his brother and younger girlfriend visiting – she leaves the little one with her husband so she can at least get a break. What could go wrong… well quite a lot actually, but that’s as much as I dare say about the blackly comic plot.

What follows is both shocking and at times a comedy of errors – you find yourself nervously laughing one minute and the next holding your hand over your mouth gob smacked by what has transpired.

Skilfully directed by Caye Casas, who co-wrote the tight and inventive script with Christina Borodin. The use of a slow moving camera prowling around the apartment and the tight close-ups add to the tension – disturbing, dark and sad, you are never quite sure how the horrific situation depicted will resolve itself.

A devastating, gut punch of a movie.