"Everything comes at a cost. Just what are you willing to pay for it" - Serena Williams
In one of the scenes in “The Occupant”, the main protagonist Javier who worked in the advertising business as a senior executive in Barcelona hustles an interview with a top ad-agency following a disastrous career string he has had. The interview goes on fine and he is hired! As he is about to leave, Javier reads a clause in the agreement which states that he will “be on a probation for 6 months” before the job is confirmed. For a mid-forties executive, Javier is devastated. Its here and other incidents, that Javier builds a nefarious overtone to his attitude as he wants his successful life at any cost!
“The Occupant” is a movie directed by (Alex, Pastor and David Pastor) the Pastor Brothers and stars Spanish actors Javier Guterrez, Mario Casas, Ruth Diaz in pivotal roles. The film has been produced for Netflix in Spanish language. But the movie also has a decent English dubbed version.
“The Occupant” is now streaming on Netflix.
THE PLOT OF “THE OCCUPANT”
“The Occupant” is a story of the life and times of advertising executive Javier and his family which consists of his wife and son in Barcelona. Once revered as a highly creative and successful executive, Javier is now struggling with his career and money. He is trying very hard to survive. In the process, he has to vacate his super luxury apartment and shifts to a blue collar neighborhood. But he still manages to keep a key to his old apartment. Off and On he frequents the place and develops a disturbing obsession with Tomas and his family who are living in the apartment. Tomas is younger, successful and very hard working. Slowly and gradually, Javier wants to infiltrate Tomas’s life by meeting him at different occasions. He wants his old life back. The story gets into various twists and turns where Javier is ready to leave his own family for getting what he wants!
INSPIRATIONS FROM “PARASITE”
I think both Alex and David Pastor have taken a que from Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite”. Just like Parasite, The Occupant also takes a look at the socio-economic divides in our societies which are present in every ethnicity. But “The Occupant” conflict is between a “once successful” and a “successful” family. In “Parasite”, there is a clear contrast between a “have” and a “have not”. But it’s a bit more compelling to see a character who had it all and then gave it away. In various interactions of Javier with perspective employers, one can sense that they all look down on him. A bit insight into how the media/advertising space treats its elderly in the pecking order. The lighting in the homes of Tomas and Javier are quite strategic here like “Parasite”. Tomas’ home is all well-lit with sunlight and everything is expansive. Javier’s home is dingy, smoky at times and is devoid of sunlight. In the end, When compared to “Parasite”, “The Occupant” holds on its own.
JAVIER’S POINT OF VIEW
The Directors have created a flexible, consistently evolving character like Javier. He is extremely ambitious and very creative at the same time. He takes all the rejections in his stride and yet keeps plotting on how to get his glory back. In the opening scene, he is seen selling his own commercial which he made for a consumer goods company. The punchline for that commercial is “THE LIFE YOU DESERVE”. It also pretty much sums up Javier’s mindset. But what steals your attention is when Javier makes “the quick jump” from being a regular frustrated guy to a “suave criminal”. In one of the scenes, Javier sneaks into a classroom where he was supposedly doing an academic course while he is being tailed by his wife. It’s a masterclass in writing when you experience this moment!
CHARACTERS IN “THE OCCUPANT”
The creation of Javier’s character looks fine. But more interesting is Tomas’ character. He is seen as a successful and high powered individual but he too has some expendability in him. Javier senses an opportunity in this expendability. Javier’s wife Marga is also a well written character. Marga seems to be the voice of reason in the film as she is possibly the only one who is in control of herself. She nurses an imperfect child who is rejected by Javier. She manages to normalize the change of finances/success in her life. Tomas’ wife Lara also seems perfect in the beginning, but she too has thin layers in herself which can be exploited.
Javier Guttierrez as Javier is outstanding. His lean, fragile self looks very much the common man in Spain. But he successfully changes his persona into something more sinister. He holds the film very well. Ruth Diaz as Marga keeps a ‘calm’ in the story and portrays the domesticated wife very well. Mario Casas as the vulnerable Tomas is also effective.
I would give this movie a 7 out of 10. It shines with its limited characters. The ending of the movie is something we as a audience would never imagine. This should be a must watch on your quarantine movies list!