A Good But Largely Unremarkable Spanish Comedy
Spanish comedy Jefe plays out far more closely to a drama than an outright comedy. While the film does a pretty good job with its pacing and dramatic moments, as an outright comedy Jefe fails to live up to its promising trailer. While César and Ariana are both decent enough protagonists and the general technicality of the film is really quite impressive, this Spanish Original can’t quite do enough; a film stuck between genres as it struggles to find a footing through much of its 90 minute run time.
With echoes of The Wolf Of Wall Street and The Big Short running throughout its storyline, Jefe revolves around the boss of a trading company quickly spiralling out of control after profits drop and shareholders begin losing faith in the company. Unlike the other two more prolific trading company films, Jefe breaks its story up across 7 days as the plot gravitates around self-centred businessman César (Luis Callejo) as he scrambles to make sense of the sudden drop. It’s soon discovered someone may well be siphoning money out of the company under his nose the entire time. Meanwhile, night janitor Ariana (Juana Acosta) injects the story with some much-needed sensitivity as César is immediately drawn toward her and the two engage in late-night dates in general tranquility, a complete contrast to the cacophonic buzz of the office during the day. What transpires from here is a story that flirts between being part-romance, part-comedy and a drama as César tries to get to the bottom of what’s happening with the company.
For the most part the story is well paced although a lot of the comedy never quite hits, relying on a specific level of sarcastic wit and humorous observational comedy that isn’t always that funny. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and the story is still enjoyable, it also makes Jefe a film that’s much closer to a drama than an actual comedy. The interesting dynamic between César and Ariana is really the driving force for much of the film though. While César struggles to form any sort of connection with his son whom he’s neglected for so long, Ariana’s closeness to her child helps give César some much-needed depth to his character and really helps us empathise with the man as he begins to see the error of his ways.
While the film isn’t perfect, the general composition of shots and camera work is very good indeed. There’s a competent use of high and low angled shots throughout and that, combined with deliberately framed scenes, make Jefe a technically competent film as well as an enjoyable drama in its own rights. As an outright comedy, Jefe fails to hit the mark and marketing itself as such certainly doesn’t do the film any favours. As a comedic drama with bursts of romance, this Netflix Spanish film does a pretty good job, even if there are better options out there in this category.