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FILM REVIEW: The Coffee Table (2023)

Updated: Jul 8

The Coffee Table - New Release Review

Director: Caye Casas

Starring: Estefanía de los Santos, David Pareja, Josep Maria Riera, Claudia Riera

Written by: Caye Casas, Cristina Borobia

Produced by: Norbert Llaràs, Diego Rodríguez, Ma Jose Serra

Cinematography by: Alberto Morago Muñoz

Original Score by: Esther Méndez


Jesús and María have recently just become parents for the first time and are going through a difficult time in their relationship. Little do they know that buying a new coffee table will ruin their lives.

The Coffee Table Film Review


Having lit up the film festival circuit last year, Caye Casas' bleak and disturbing domestic nightmare finally gets a UK Digital release from renowned distributing giants Second Sight Films and this one is a tough but enthralling watch.

David Pareja stars as Jesús, a new father who feels like he's been pushed to the side a little by his wife María in the wake of the birth of their new child. Admittedly, he never gets a say in anything in their relationship anymore and didn't even have a choice when it came to the name of their newborn. But that changes today and as they decide which coffee table they're going to buy for their new apartment, Jesús sort of puts his foot down and with the help of a strangely determined but unreliable salesman, he sets his sights on a rather ugly glass table held up by two obtuse golden statues underneath. María isn't a fan and Jesús isn't even sure if he is a fan either, but this is his decision to make and he's sticking with it.

David Pareja as Jesús in The Coffee Table

After setting the coffee table up and after yet another brief argument, María heads out to the store for a much needed break from the baby and her husband. But what happens while she is away is unthinkable...

'The Coffee Table' is a profoundly distressing and viscerally tense film to watch, even from the opening scene which is laced with dark, comical undertones, up until the moment the "incident" occurs and even more so in the aftermath of the unspeakable, horrifying event. It's a film that grabs you by the throat and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.

I was aware of it's shock value going in but was expecting lots of blood and gore or something full of animalistic brutality that would make me turn away but what I got was something so much more anxiety inducing which made me shiver and squirm. It's not brutal or ultra violent. In fact it's the films simplicity and taut narrative that helps shape the hauntingly, grim atmosphere and purposely slow building premise.

The Coffee Table Film Review

Much of this is down to how Director Caye Casas decides to film the subjects in the apartment building. It's mostly one location with just a few rooms and Casas creates a real sense of claustrophobia. The apartment isn't particularly small by any means however the nature of the horrible accident that we know has happened and that is being hidden from his wife paralyses Jesús and so much of the remainder of the film after the incident is Jesús just trying to survive in what feels like an increasingly suffocating environment.

The use of unusual camera angles, blurred imagery and extreme close ups only add to the disconcertment. It's excruciating to watch at times and gets even worse when his brother and new girlfriend arrive for lunch. The subplot involving a thirteen year old girl who resides on the next floor adds to the almost nauseating experience.

And it helps when the cast are all on point. Pareja and de los Santos are both pretty incredible. The characters clearly still love each other but both actors play them with such versatility that it's easy to believe in their shared toxicity. They're a couple who've had a baby and perhaps weren't quite prepared for the changes that would happen in their lives and that all comes out in Pareja and de los Santos' performance. Both Jesús and María are fairly unlikeable characters in the beginning but still genuinely relatable which makes their sad downfall powerfully uncomfortable to witness.

David Pareja as Jesús in The Coffee Table

'The Coffee Table' is grim and upsetting and will no doubt be triggering to some but it's an absolutely captivating watch nonetheless.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️½

-Gavin Logan

'The Coffee Table' is released on UK Digital May 20th by Second Sight Films

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