19 August 2002 | jrgirones
A combative office-worker is recollecting signatures. People are not allowed to smoke in the building, so he wants to ask the bosses to habilitate a smoking room. It seems logical and his colleagues praise the initiative. But actually what comes next reveals the fierce individualism, selfishness and cowardice that each one hide under their white collar.
"Smoking Room" is probably the best Spanish movie of the year: thought-provoking and filmed with coherence and style. The story is brought to images in a way that reminds me neorealism: the austerity of every shot, the claustrophobic atmosphere and the scrutiny of every actor face in extremely close-up is amazingly related with the content the films deals with and makes the whole picture ring so true to the viewer.
This has to be remarked while "Smoking Room" is a directorial film debut and both Gual and Wallovits come from the Advertisement business. One would have expect something more stylish, even superficial as a consequence of that, and instead Gual and Wallovits surprise us with a proof of talent that shows more coherence, bravery and sense of the "mise en scene" than any experimented director with a big budget to work with.
The screenplay, also written by Gual and Wallovits, begins with a simple action of an idealist worker. That's a simple but brilliant idea that permits the writers to focus on every character in a magistral way, with dialogues that may seem trivial but are rich in psychological meaning. As the minimum plot unfolds, the situation grows dark and tense. The characters show the worst of themselves and confront each other, but strangely enough, they don't appear as monsters: only like human beings, with all they misery and highness, too, as the end sequence of the film intends to remark.
As you may have guessed, in a film like this the cast performances are very important and in fact is impossible to review "Smoking Room" without referring to the enormous talent of every actor in the cast. They are simply superb, extraordinary believable. And not only that, they have proved to be great professionals as they starred in this film almost without receiving any money in return. And I can assure you they are not beginners.