The Coffee Table Review

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Director: Caye Casas

Writers: Cristina Borobia, Caye Casas

Stars: David Pareja, Estefanía de los Santos, Josep Maria Riera

Caye Casas’ The Coffee Table is a masterclass in uncomfortable hilarity. This 2022 Spanish dark comedy isn’t for the faint of heart. It plunges us into the crumbling world of Jesús (David Pareja) and María (Estefanía de los Santos), a couple on the brink in the wake of a new baby. Their attempt to revitalize their home with a sleek new coffee table sets the stage for a series of disastrous encounters that spiral into the absurd.

The brilliance of The Coffee Table lies in its ability to mine humor from the most excruciating situations. The film hinges on a single, nightmarish premise that is best left unspoiled, but the lead-up is a masterfully crafted exercise in awkward tension. Writer Cristina Borobia and Casas weave a narrative tapestry of seemingly mundane interactions – dinner with overbearing in-laws, a visit from a clueless friend – that gradually morph into exercises in social and interpersonal torture.

The dialogue is a particular highlight. It’s sharp, witty, and laced with a dark undercurrent that keeps you perpetually on edge. Characters deliver barbs disguised as compliments, pleasantries morph into passive-aggressive digs, and forced smiles stretch thin over simmering resentments. The film perfectly captures the awkward silences and strained conversations that plague dysfunctional relationships.


The performances are equally impressive. Pareja delivers a tour-de-force as Jesús, a man unraveling at the seams. His descent from mild annoyance to panicked desperation is both believable and darkly comedic. De los Santos is his perfect foil, portraying María with a quiet strength that masks a growing sense of unease. The supporting cast, from the oblivious friend to the judgmental in-laws, all contribute to the film’s atmosphere of suffocating discomfort.


Technically, The Coffee Table is a marvel of restraint. Cinematographer Alberto Morago utilizes tight close-ups and handheld camerawork, creating a sense of claustrophobia that mirrors the characters’ deteriorating mental states. The score by Esther Méndez is sparse and unsettling, adding to the film’s overall sense of dread.


However, The Coffee Table is not without its flaws. The film’s dark humor might not resonate with everyone. Some viewers may find the unrelenting bleakness to be too much, and the central conceit, while undeniably original, could be seen as too outlandish for some tastes.

Ultimately, The Coffee Table is a film that thrives on pushing boundaries. It’s a pitch-black comedy that dares to laugh at the darkest aspects of human nature and the pressures of modern life. It’s a film that will make you squirm, laugh uncomfortably, and stay with you long after the credits roll. If you have a strong stomach and a taste for the bizarre, The Coffee Table is a darkly comedic gem waiting to be discovered.

Rating: 8.5/10