Casual Day

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San Sebastian International Film Festival

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- "Casual Day," Spanish director Max Lemcke's second feature, is a funny take on how work life mixes with personal struggles and vice versa. From a sharply scripted tale by the brothers Daniel and Pablo Remon, Lemcke successfully shows how professional and personal lives get entangled with plenty of dry humor in the mix. This film should do well in Spain and other Latin markets but could also work at fests in the U.S. and elsewhere unless "The Office" hasn't already stolen much of its comic thunder.

"Casual Day" is about a team-building weekend for a company that will be familiar to thousands of middle-rank executives -- paint balling, incentive games, you name it. The boss, Jose Antonio (Juan Diego), is keen that Ruy (Javier Rios) will marry his beloved daughter. But 25-year-old Ruy feels trapped and turns to the pretty Marta (Estibaliz Gabilondo) for comfort -- with disastrous consequences.

Overlooked Almarcegui (Secun de la Rosa) wants a silly souvenir bear trophy, which becomes not only a good comic foil, but symbolizes how petty work frustrations can build frustration within the mildest of office workers.

Diego steals the show with a bravura performance as the boss teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. He veers skillfully between absent-minded exec, who seems unable to break the news he is demoting a hardworking junior, and a demonically obsessive boss who tells himself every day, in front of the mirror "I want to get to the sixth floor" -- where the top executives work.

Lemcke paces the film well. He skillfully flicks between Diego indoctrinating Rios and Tosar trying to seduce Gabilondo. The first is funny-ridiculous, the second sickeningly familiar to many female executives who have endured unwanted attentions from male colleagues.

After Rios is caught seducing Gabilondo in the boss' prized car, he resigns himself to settling down with the boss' daughter. Tosar comments "See you on Monday" -- all is forgotten once back at work.

Lemcke makes effective use of the beautifully mountainous Basque region where "Casual Day" was filmed.

CASUAL DAY
Estudios Picasso, Montfort Prods., Videntia Frames
Credits:
Director: Max Lemcke
Writers: Daniel Remon, Pablo Remon
Producers: Alvaro Augustin, Iker Monfort
Director of photography: Javier Palacios
Production designer: Juanjo Gracia
Costume designer: Monica Christofoletti
Music: Pierre Omer
Editors: Laurent Dufreche, Pite Pinas
Cast:
Cholo: Luis Tosar
Arozmena: Alex Angulo
Ines: Marta Etura
Psychologist: Alberto San Juan
Bea: Malena Alterio
Jose Antonio: Juan Diego
Marta: Estibaliz Gabilondo
Morales: Arturo Valls
Almarcegui: Secun de la Rosa
Ruy: Javier Rios
Velasco: Carlos Kaniowsky
Running time -- 93 minutes
No MPAA rating
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