Anyone planning a future in the world of international business might want to take a look at the bitter satire of “Welcome to Farewell-Gutmann,” an unsettlingly but compelling tale about corporate ambition. Looking much like adapted drama and with few concessions to realism, this visually and thematically bleak item smartly exploits its limited resources, depending for much of its grueling power on the four committed perfs which drive it. Commercial prospects are slim, but edgier fests could give “Gutmann” a warm welcome.
The head of human resources at pharmaceuticals firm Farewell-Gutmann has died, and Lazaro (Adolfo Fernandez), Adela (Ana Fernandez) and Fernando (Lluis Soler) are jostling for position.
Lazaro is a big but broken man. Adela is a woman who works obsessively to hide the pain of her personal life (for her intensity here, Fernandez took the best actress nod at the Malaga fest), and Fernando has learned you have to be ruthless — but only now will he learn to what extent .
Struggling with alcoholism, Lazaro wants to get back with his former wife. His former brother-in-law Santiago (Pep Anton Munoz), who’s middle aged, comes to Lazaro looking for work, and promises he’ll engineer a romantic reunion between Lazaro and his ex if Lazaro gets him a job.
Adela is interviewing Martin (Sergio Caballero) for the same job. Martin is best qualified, but is epileptic.
Fernando is interviewing vulnerable Nadia (Marta Novotna), an attractive Ukrainian immigrant.
In the interview process for the top job, the stakes rise the satire morphs into horror. The three candidates are subjected to the most grotesque and painfully protracted humiliations by Luger (Hector Colome Hammer, wonderfully frightening).
This is a world from which all humanity has been sucked — it’s no accident that Luger looks like a vampire. Script’s point is that Luger, far from being simply a sadist, could be teaching them a lesson about their own hypocrisy.
Pic is set entirely in the company building, an immense, depopulated space of terrifying, monochrome blandness. Story’s tensions are all about its cleverly constructed cat and mouse dialogues, brought to credible life by a clutch of superb perfs.
Mikel Salas’s clipped, quasi-baroque score acts as a dignified counterpoint to the psychological unpleasantness onscreen.