The Employer And The Employee Image

Biscayart and Borges deliver exceptionally nuanced performances. The chemistry between them is primarily nonverbal, which is fitting because they play introverted characters. As a result, it takes a while before the tension boils over, making some scenes seem to last for too long. Wisely though, once things come to a head, the story never veers toward melodrama. Rodrigo and Carlos do not hate each other. Yet, considering the circumstances they are put in, the uncertainty and deception of their relationship are compelling aspects to consider.

Arauco Hernandez Holz’s stellar cinematography of stately wide shots beautifully captures rural Uruguay. In a memorable boar-hunting scene with Carlos and his father, the camera is fluid, and the atmosphere is serene. Holz’s control of the camera helps establish the tranquility and vastness of the setting as well as the repressed hostility the characters at the heart of The Employer and the Employee are dealing with.

“…treats tragedy and conflict with a fair amount of authenticity.

Fortunately, Nieto treats tragedy and conflict with a fair amount of authenticity. He does not rely on heated arguments or clear-cut motivations to drive the actions of the characters or the direction of the plot. Instead, the frustration and sadness that the characters endure are conveyed nonverbally, with the occasional outburst. For example, another feud occurs between Federica, Rodrigo’s wife, and Stephanie, Carlos’s wife. What’s interesting about this is that the tension between them is not established until closer to the third act. In one of the more scarily abrupt confrontations, a dejected Stephanie says to Federica, “I can sink you.” It is a deeply unsettling reaction that leaves an impression. 

While the sluggish pace and unspoken conflict between the two men often fail to engage, The Employer and the Employee is fueled by modestly stirring performances and Manolo Nieto’s layered screenplay. Money and liability intercut with tragedy and stifled agony make the understated rivalry between the two men captivating.

The Employer and the Employee screened at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

The Employer and the Employee (2021)

Directed and Written: Manolo Nieto

Starring: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Cristian Borges, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Employer and the Employee  Image

"…fueled by modestly stirring performances..."

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