The 2009 film Exam by British director Stuart Hazeldine is a captivating minimalist film, as the entire story takes place in one room, the exam room. During the final stage of an intricate hiring process for a large corporate conglomerate eight candidates are placed in an examination room and told to answer one question. They work together or against each other in order to unravel the mystery of the question.
The movie studies human empathy as the plot unfolds in the hyper-dramatic setting of an exam room. This minimalist backdrop seems to question where empathy will fit in if all anybody brings into a corporate or competitive environment is ambition and talent. Each character employs a different philosophy, creating a cast that is both physically and metaphysically diverse. These different philosophies are employed in a superficial self-serving manner and are abandoned for any suitable alternatives. The characters are willing to abandon their principles for a chance to get this job; empathy seems utterly lost in the corporate world, lost but not extinct. As the characters dive deeper into the maddening pursuit of survival, we see the power of human empathy in their most vulnerable moments.
In the end the film suggests that corporates are capable of empathy but only if we provide it when we are hired. Corporations are not –even if the law disagrees – human or living beings; they are a collection of life. And if we do not bring our empathy, our emotiveness, and our very humanity into this collection, then we rob the corporation of something palpable and hinder society all the more. So there is one question to be answered, not just by the characters but by every employee in every corporation, where is your humanity: in your work, in your home, or lost altogether?