‘Corner Office’ Ending, Explained: Did Andrew Allow Orson To Work In The Room?


Directed by Joachim Back, Corner Office is the story of a man who had a time understanding people, but through its metaphors, it tries to tell us about the hypocrisy and preposterousness of corporate culture. The film is based on the book written by Ted Karlsson, and it talks about the absurdities of life and how corporate culture only gives us the illusion that we are free to think outside the box and how this confinement makes sure that we are never able to loosen the reins of our imagination. So, let’s find out how things pan out for our Corner Office‘s protagonist and if he is able to successfully decipher the intrinsic nature of people around him.

Spoilers Alert

Was Orson Suffering From A Mental Disorder?

Orson, for lack of a better term, was a peculiar character, and it could be evidently seen and felt by his colleagues. Let’s put it this way: it is a characteristic feature of human beings to label something as absurd or inane if it does not match the so-called behavioral parameters that they set and that they consider to be normal. Obviously, Orson was very different from his co-workers. He could see through the hypocrisy and pretense of human behavior, and he didn’t understand why the words uttered from the mouth, and the motive inside the mind did not match.

Orson was terrible at his social skills, and he hadn’t honed the art of “small talk,” as he thought that it was a meaningless and futile activity. Orson knew his work well, but we all know that it is never enough. He could see through the intentions of the people and almost perfectly ascertain what was going on in their minds. He saw that Mitchell was scared of being fired from the company but was camouflaging his fear through his behavior. He noticed that Carol had a superiority complex where she thought that she knew everything, while Shanon just sought validation and was a people-pleaser of the highest order. They all thought that they were able to disguise their real intentions, but there was Orson, sitting quietly in one corner of the office and scrutinizing each and every gesture made or word spoken by everyone. Orson had problems with the weirdest things in life, like the jacket that Rakesh wore. He didn’t like the color, and additionally, he didn’t like how untidy Rakesh’s table was.

Orson had this fear that the pile of files would grow big and fall on him one day, and he just couldn’t make others understand that his dread was as rational as anything they felt. Everything was still under control, and though people observed his oddities, they didn’t have a strong case to complain about him. But the day Orson started going to the “infamous room,” things changed drastically. Here was this room, almost perfect, just as Orson would have liked it, and he loved going there and doing his work. He felt as if he could think better inside and focus properly on things that mattered. He had the highest productivity there, and he was hoping that because it wasn’t being used by anyone, it shouldn’t be a problem for the higher management to allot him that room and officially allow him to work from there.

Days passed, and one day Orson was called by Andrew in his cabin. His colleague had complained to Andrew that Orson had started behaving very weirdly and that he used to stare at a wall for hours. It’s then that we raise the fact that the room was a figment of imagination and never existed in reality. It was true that Orson was able to compartmentalize, focus, and increase his work productivity, but all this was while he was just staring at a blank wall, and no room had ever existed there. Orson at first thought that it was a lame joke that his office colleagues were playing on him, but he slowly realized that it was more serious than that. He didn’t understand why they wouldn’t let him work there or why they were in such denial, because it wasn’t as if he was asking any favor from them. Orson was asked to visit a psychiatrist and he abided by the orders as he wanted to show them that nothing was wrong with him. The psychiatrist gave him a clean chit, as she might have seen that even though he was hallucinating, he posed no threat to others and had an exceptional work ethic. Andrew had no option but to allow Orson to continue working, but he made him promise that he wouldn’t talk about the room again and that he would stop going there and staring at the wall.

In reality, the room didn’t exist, and Orson was probably suffering from severe mental health problems. This does not mean that he was not good at what he did or that he was a lunatic, but that he had a unique perspective and saw the world in a very different way as compared to the others. He saw through the absurdities of life; he didn’t understand the corporate culture; he didn’t understand bureaucracy; and most of all he didn’t understand people. 

Did Andrew Allow Orson To Work In The Room?

Orson started a new thing while he was at work, and he did it so secretly that no one came to know about it for the longest time. He started doing work for other people and then kept the file on Andrew’s desk once everybody had left. Andrew, for days, couldn’t understand who was doing all the work. When everybody left the office, Orson used to go and stand in front of the wall, and somehow, he could do the trickiest of tasks in the most proficient manner. According to Orson’s mind, he was going inside the room and finishing his work there, but that was his delusion, and nothing of that sort was happening in reality. He didn’t utter a word about the room, and additionally, he kept quiet when Andrew asked everyone about who was doing all this work.

Andrew never even thought that Orson was capable of producing such quality work, and that is why he never questioned him personally about it. One day Carol saw Orson keeping a file on Andrew’s desk as she had come a bit early that day, and then finally, in the Corner Office, the secret was revealed. Orson’s work was so good that the EVP had announced that it would become the standard framework that the company was now going to employ. Andrew was almost in tears and told Orson that it was his work that had saved the company from shutting down. Orson felt proud of what he had been able to achieve, though he had difficulty choosing the right words for the conversation because he still didn’t understand the intricacies of human behavior.

Over a period of time, Orson grew tired of waiting for others to leave so that he could go to the room and work in peace. He decided one fine day that he would ask Andrew to let him work from there permanently. It was a bad idea, as Orson didn’t have any doubts about the existence of the room, and he felt that others just didn’t want him to go there, whereas the others knew that he probably saw things that didn’t exist. Alyssa, the receptionist, also felt intrigued by Orson, but as soon as she realized that the man was talking nonsense and there was no such room, she started maintaining distance from him and even asked him if he had taken drugs. Orson finally gave in to his impulses and told Andrew that if he wanted the good work to continue, he should let him work from the room. Andrew had thought that the chapter of the room was over, but as soon as he realized that Orson still believed that the room existed, he knew that he would have to let him go because of the company guidelines.

During Corner Office’s ending, Orson was fired from his job, and we realized how obsessed he had become with the room when, after he reached the parking lot, he eluded the security guards and came back running to the office and went and stood in front of the room. His colleagues got shocked by such behavior but for Orson he had closed the door of the room behind him and shut all the clutter. Orson showed us how following the line is considered to be ideal behavior and if anyone tries to break the shackles and defies convention, they are not appreciated. Anomalies are often seen as abnormality because corporate culture fears non-conformism and most of all authentic ideas that have the potential to break the pattern and venture into uncharted territories. 

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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