The Coffee Table DVD Review: I Said the Smartest Thing to Do Was Get a Vasectomy

Caye Casas’ The Coffee Table (La Mesita del Comedor) opens with brand new parents, María (Estefania de los Santos) and Jesús (David Pareja), being sold a new coffee table composed of two golden nude females holding up a thick, glass top. Jesús adores the table. María loathes it. The clerk (Eduardo Antuna) wants to convince the couple that this table is known to only bring happiness to anyone who owns it. Jesús wins the argument and the coffee table goes home with the happy/unhappy couple.

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Jesús’ brother, Carlos (Josep Riera), and his far-too-young girlfriend, Cristina (Claudia Riera) are coming over for lunch to meet the baby. María has to go to the store, and Jesús will be home alone with the child for the first time. Take care of the baby and put together the table. It’s a simple job. Jesús is trying to rock the baby to sleep as he walks with a spring in his step around the apartment. He turns a corner and we hear a sudden crash. We do not see it happen, but the glass table has obviously shattered and we no longer hear the baby or Jesús. It is an eerie quiet and the camera is slow to show us the scene. We don’t want to see it anyway. It is going to be awful.

What possesses Jesús to keep it a secret that he accidentally killed their newborn son from his wife, María, and from his brother and his girlfriend? We can guess. He is in shock. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It will become real if it is said out loud. Most likely, though, he is trying to give his wife a couple more hours of happiness before it is gone forever. We can hope that is the reason. We can hope that Jesús is only trying to protect his wife, but there is an air of trying to save himself, too. This is a taut psychological thriller that will push all your buttons. This movie makes the viewer feel desperate to get away at the same time as being unable to look somewhere else. 

It doesn’t help that one of the neighbors is a 13-year-old girl with a mad crush on Jesús. And she is “mad” as in crazy. She believes the two of them have shared a couple romantic moments and wants them to be together forever. She says ridiculous things to Jesús in a sexual manner, and explains that she will be doing everything she can to ruin his marriage. When María comes home from the store, she threatens, she will be over immediately to claim they are lovers. As if there wasn’t enough tension already.

The Coffee Table is low-key, under the surface, horror a la Rosemary’s Baby. There is no gruesome, in-your-face gore, though there is plenty of blood that everyone confuses with paint. The most graphic moments are only spoken of, sometimes heard, but not depicted. Nothing jumps at you. Nothing runs at you. And, yet, this is an incredibly scary movie about love and loss, accidents and intent.

Bonus Material: Official Trailer

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Greg Hammond

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