Film Review: The People Upstairs Dir: Cesc Gay

Starring: Belén Custa, Javier Cámara, Alberto San Juan, Griselda Siciliani

(Spanish with English subtitles)

Two middle class couples find plenty to bicker about until one comes up with a potentially indecent proposal.

Shot primarily in one apartment with just the four principal actors, this adapted stage place has the potential to be just that…stagey. But a sharp script and fine performances all around make The People Upstairs something to look forward to.

When we meet Julio (Javier Cámara) and Ana (Griselda Siciliani), their 15-year marriage seems to be grinding to a halt and Julio , in particular, is not looking forward spending time with the people upstairs.

That couple, Laura (Beléne Custa) and Salva (Alberto San Juan) have been keeping Julio and Ana up all night with their rather feisty (and loud) sexual antics. Otherwise the two couples meet at the elevator and exchange pleasantries.

So, Ana has invited them over and Julio is feeling anything but pleasant. But let’s face it, watching and listening to the downstairs couple bicker for the first 20 minutes of the film and one gets the opinion that Julio is never pleasant unless he’s up on the roof with his telescope. Their own sex life is at a standstill, and the idea of spending the evening with the frisky Laura and Salva makes Julio even more cynical, sarcastic and sanctimonious than usual. Meanwhile wife Ana just wants some “normal” human interaction.

As I said, the premise could be dire but the script and performances carry the day and the camera and director get out of the way and let these actors do their jobs.

The tension eventually gives way to something more…interesting, and by the end of this film’s 82 minutes, the characters have gone through a few changes.

Maybe you will too, especially if you identify with any of the four. And chances are you will.

Marty Duda