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November 08, 2016

Denver Film Festival: Tip of the Iceberg


La Punta del Iceberg
David Canovas - 2016

Well, yes, I've been a fan of Spanish actress Maribel Verdu since Y tu Mama Tambien, but as it turns out, Tip of the Iceberg is my favorite of the narrative films in this year's Denver Film Festival as well. Verdu plays the part of a financial analyst, Sofia, who is assigned to investigate why three executives committed suicide at one of the offices of a corporation within a period of a couple of months. The three men shared parts of a project called Iceberg.

All we know about the project is the name and that the executives are under a short deadline for completion. In the best Hitchcockian tradition, the project is the MacGuffin of this film. The real iceberg is the discovery Sofia makes of corporate culture from the top to the bottom, where people work excessively long hours, are expected to produce the demanded results, and rationalize why they allow themselves to be dehumanized for the good of the company.

Sofia wonders why someone from Human Resources, that contradictory name that implies people as commodities, is not chosen to do the investigation. Sofia herself at first would seem to be someone of hard surfaces, almost physically bound in her tight, formfitting black jackets and pencil skirts. The two offices are the proxy icebergs, modern, shiny, glass, concrete and steel, white and gray.

Canovas' film was adapted from a play which was inspired by true events in France. Because of the set-up as a mystery, with characters revealing secrets about themselves or others, the film never feels dialogue heavy. Sofia's ability to stay impersonal is challenged. Even the executive who is considered responsible for his heavy-handed treatment of his employees is given a brief moment of humanity. What may be said about corporate culture may not be new, see Rod Serling's from sixty years ago, as an example. This is one very good feature debut by David Canovas that stays intriguing through the very satisfying end.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 8, 2016 07:00 AM