New to Netflix from today is the Spanish psychological thriller, Under Her Control (aka La Jefa). The movie – directed by Fran Torres – stars Cumelen Sanz and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, and tells the story of a young woman who enters into a troublesome agreement with her employer.
In the movie, Sofía is a determined, career-driven young woman who wants to get ahead in the world of fashion. She applies for an internship as a personal assistant for fashion mogul, Beatriz, and after a few weeks of proving herself, she lands a permanent position.
Everything seems to be going well, however, shortly into her employment, Sofía begins to suffer morning sickness, leading to the quick realisation that she has fallen pregnant. While this would be a joyous occasion for many, for Sofía the timing is not quite right and she begins to fear for her job at the company – a company which has not shown a great deal of compassion toward those who require extended absences.
Troubled by the situation, Sofía informs Beatriz of the pregnancy. Although Beatriz is far from pleased at the news, she soon sees this as an opportunity to benefit herself.
Beatriz is older, and unable to have children, so she proposes a solution to Sofía: She will adopt the baby. The adoption will be kept a secret, with Sofía agreeing to move into seclusion for the entirety of the pregnancy, but she will be heavily compensated and will be able to keep her job.
After some consideration, Sofía agrees to the arrangement and moves into Beatriz’s home. But with her life now under the watchful eye of her employer, Sofía begins to question the choice she has made.
Under Her Control is an intriguing little movie, with an interesting premise. It is largely a film about the relationship between two very determined, very opportunistic women, and the arrangement they enter into.
This is a slow burning film, which relies heavily on storytelling, character work, and mild dramatization, rather than huge thrills, spills, twists or turns. So, those who are after a bit of action, or a significant amount of tension and suspense, will not really find it here.
However, if you are after a picture which takes its time to tell its story, while still remaining interesting, then this is a film to take a look at. Despite the slower pace, Under Her Control is a fairly captivating film with a dark edge, and one which held my attention throughout.
Under Her Control benefits from strong central performances, with lead actors Cumelen Sanz and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón proving to be an inspired pairing. Had the casting been slightly off, I feel the film would have suffered somewhat; however, with these two in place, Under Her Control has the right weight and depth where needed.
Both actors play cold, unfeeling characters rather well, and do a great job at sharing the screen. The strength of this film is largely in their performances, and they bring a great deal to the story.
My only issue is that both actors have to wait until very close to the end of the movie before they can really crank their performances up a notch. This is a problem with the story, rather than anything to do with either actor, it’s just a shame they are not given the chance to reach new heights earlier in the movie.
But what they deliver works for the film. Their performances are strong and are complimented by smart direction, some good cinematography, and an even tone.
If I have any major criticism with this film, it is that I don’t feel it quite reaches its potential at times – and certainly not at the climax. Given a few tweaks it could have gone bigger, and much darker, so this does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity.
However, I like Under Her Control for what it is. And while I’m not entirely convinced it will work for everyone, it did (just about) work for me.
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