César is the misunderstood lost boss and Ariana is his saving grace in the well-performed Spanish comedy film Jefe.
Jefe kindly reminded me of the time I had a manager who was so incredibly fragile that we never knew what kind of day to expect. Sometimes he would come in, giving that whiff of too much aftershave, and other days the alerting smell would be accompanied by lingering alcohol. Unlike the characters in Jefe, I could not help but sympathise.
The boss in Jefe, César (Luis Callejo), is not an exact comparison to my experiences, mostly because he is the top boss of a trading company. César spends most of the film working against the clock due to his lifestyle that appears to be caused by his looming divorce from a wife who sends paid-for-messengers to finalise formal arrangements. The Spanish movie is an odd experience, mostly because of the glimpses of kindness he offers, serving a small degree of endearment for the character; unlike, say, The Wolf of Wall Street, where the character’s downfall is deserved and you cooperate in enjoying the ride.
César is a difficult character to judge because of his lack of professionalism, and it does not help that all the other characters look fed up by him. The new cleaner of the office, Ariana (Juana Acosta), is the character that brings the story to life, adding a dimension to César’s story that was not apparent at the start.
Ariana is a wonderful character; there’s a scene in particular where she graces the office pretending to be the boss, teasing with cigars and singing in the shower. She softens César, giving the audience the insight needed to understand that the boss of the company is not just a wild card. He has a heart and is clearly misunderstood, despite his loud expletives.
Jefe becomes a story that slowly dismantles the unbridled César, who is majorly unaware of the company’s issues whilst distracted by his late night dates with Ariana. César is a man that has lost his way, forgetting the true value of family and the respect between friends; his downfall is his own privileged naivety, born from success and nurtured by the collapse of his broken company. Ariana is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Jefe was snatched and labelled by Netflix and what a good move that was. The Spanish film is a satisfying watch, providing a closed conclusion that feels necessary.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.