Game of Power (15)  Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival

This Spanish/Argentinian feature, set almost entirely in the office of the editor of a newspaper, makes good use of the claustrophobic atmosphere to ramp up the tension between the protagonists.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Antonio (Ernesto Alterio) is retiring due to ill health. He has been tasked by the board of directors to choose his successor from one of two candidates: Maca (Clara Lago) and Vargas (Quique Fernandez). His chosen one will take over his position, the other must leave the company.

Maca and Antonia have been platonic friends for many years, since she was a student attending his lectures. Vargas is manipulative, deceitful and has behaved in such an underhand fashion that it is, quite frankly, difficult to believe that he hasn’t been fired long before this.

Antonio is in no doubt that Maca has all the qualities needed to run the paper with one exception – can she handle the power that goes with the position? Closeted in his office overnight while a storm rages outside, their conversation becomes ever more intimate. Meanwhile, Vargas flits around the periphery, a marginal figure, but one whose every appearance seems to exude a veiled menace. Has he some hold over Antonio? Given what we’re told of his underhand behaviour in the past, this is highly possible. And will Antonio and Clara’s relationship develop to the extent that it will influence Antonio’s decision either for or against her?

One thing is certain – all three are playing a game of power. But will the winner be the one who plays to win, or the one who plays to ensure that another does not?

Debut Director Mariana Barassi does a fine job in tipping the balance from one to another and back again. Who triumphs in the end? Well, obviously I’m not going to tell you – watch and find out for yourselves, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Screening at Filmhouse 8th October, then part of the Online Festival 14th – 17th October.

Jim Welsh

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