The span of time covered in the film, though it feels like eons, is only a few months. This was held to determine the will of the people in relation to defaulting on Greece's debt and risking expulsion from the EU, or agreeing to the terms of the ruinous MoU (memorandum of understanding). It corresponds to the period of Yanis' being minister for finance and one of the most high-profile member's of Tsipras' inner circle, traveling from Athens to Brussels to Paris to London to Frankfurt to Berlin to Riga to meet with the same group of international adversaries, none of whom will readily support his alternate proposals to rescue Greece from its precipitous economic decline into debt slavery, no matter what they may say to the lurking press outside. It runs from the January 2015 election that put the left-wing Syriza party in charge of an awkward coalition with the right-wing populist Independent Greeks, and installed Alexis Tsipras (Alexandros Bourdoumis) as prime mnister, up to the July referendum.
In terms of filmmaking flourishes, the closest we get is an inexplicable semi-dissolve montage when Alexis mentions feeling like "a swordfish being reeled in and let out, reeled in and let out" and a truly bizarre finale in which Tsipras' thought processes leading him to disregard the results of the referendum and sign the MoU are told through the medium of a dance number with look-alikes of the European heads of state. Elsewhere, the film looks indifferent to the point of banal, and even Alexandre Desplat's initially pleasant score starts to grate, with its Greek folk-music motif insistently reminding us of a Greekness we are in no danger of forgetting. Of course, the frustrating, unfair circularity of this whole process is very much the point that Costa-Gavras wants to make, but dramaturgically it traps us, along with Yanis, in a never-ending series of arguments about whether the word "adjustment" is better than "amendment" and the passing of phones and pieces of paper, all staged in two-shot conversations or round-table discussions whose visual potential is quickly exhausted by DP Yorgos Arvanitis.
The adults can stay where they are, but the film needs badly to get out of the room.” /> The psychology of the major players goes unexamined. Perhaps The chilling advance resonances of the threatened "Grexit" go untapped. And for all the talk of "the people," those driven to starvation, unemployment and destitution by the austerity measures forced on the nation are scarcely even glimpsed.
"I know you're tired of this Greek drama — so are we Greeks!" quips Yanis at one point and if the play on "Greek drama" is as close as the movie gets to a bona fide joke, it is also a wild overstatement. Events here barely feel dramatized at all, let alone to the point that anyone kills his father or sleeps with his mother. Far too many adults, in far too many rooms, have far too many repetitive conversations about the arcane ins-and-outs of EU policymaking in Costa-Gavras' maddeningly unfocused "Adults in the Room." Amounting as much to a hagiography of erstwhile Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (solidly played by Christos Loulis) as a very long-exposure snapshot of the closed-door 2015 negotiations when Greece attempted to revisit the disastrous terms of its EU debt repayment program, the film is worthily intended, meticulously researched and very dull.
Schaüble refuses to budge an inch on the MoU, and though Yanis' articulacy and acumen seem to win him brief support from other big players, such as Christine Lagarde (Josiane Pinson), head of the International Monetary Fund, when it comes to decisions, they end up falling in line with Schaüble, time and again. And again. His chief antagonist, it emerges, is the wheelchair-bound Wolfgang Schaüble (Ulrich Tukur), Germany's finance minister under Angela Merkel. And again.
Apart from Yanis, whose thinly sketched wife is played in a handful of scenes by the ubiquitous Valeria Golino, do any of these gray men in beige conference rooms even have mothers or fathers or lives external to these interminable meetings? As far as Costa-Gavras' screenplay is concerned, they do not. Instead these characters, whose basis on real people provides only an initial glimmer of interest, and then only for the more dedicated EU governance groupie, mostly act as repositories for intricate, stonewalling arguments of escalating callousness, to which Varoufakis can respond with correspondingly escalating integrity (the script was based on his book, and on time the veteran Greek-French director spent discussing the project at his house).

Honestly, I wanna put my trust in you
But you can understand why if I’ve got trust issues
Do you really have the faith of your party? Do you really have faith in the party that will come with you? Well let me remind you just in case you’ve forgotten
That we live in Great Britain, not in Donald Trump’s America
Speaking of America, state and the president
With all due respect, I’ve got something to say to them
I just find it funny you can’t give a hand to Palestine
But you can trade whole arms with Saudi Arabia

Look, look
I’ve got a question for the new prime minister
At Grenfell Tower, your response was ridiculous
You hid like a coward behind your 5 million
Dodged responsibility and acted like you’re innocent
And I can see you’re terrified, you’re not good at telling lies
I’m getting why you stay away from everything that’s televised
You look like a robot and you don’t speak with any life
It feels to me like any guy in press could’ve said them lines
Imagine going to the council for the safety of your block
And you’ve got kids but they’re ignoring you at every time
Everyone who knew about that cladding
Should really be going prison under rule of joint enterprise
But if it ain’t a little kid with a knife
I bet that judge is going easy when he’s giving him time
They don’t deserve to be free
Any builder, MP that knew about the conditions but did it to save cheese
When I listen to the things that the residents had seen
I was so shocked I couldn’t even speak
Families they know that had died in their sleep
How you choke on the smoke when you’re struggling to breathe
The glow from the fire
The panic when you hear all the sirens
The crackling, the popping and the muffled-out screams
The fear in the eyes of a man that was trapped
Who jumped 15 floors from the tower to the street
I could only hear a fraction of the pain and the grief
Closing my eyes, trying hard not to cry
And the joy and relief in the face of a man
When a woman from the flat said his neighbour was alive
No help from the council in keeping any list
Or the people that survived, his neighbours and peers
And for that whole meeting I could see that he was trying
So his smile was an island in a sea full of tears

Look, I’ve got a message for our old prime minister
David Cameron
I mean you fucked us, resigned, then sneaked out the firing line
I wanna know how you managed it
And are you bathing in the sun while them papers have a run
At the woman that you left here to handle it? And how do you plan on keeping all the promises? 350 million we give to the EU every week
That our health service needs
But now them politicians got what they wanted
Can you see an empty promise or a poster on the street? How they made them redundant when I was a young’un
The letters in our car said my mum was overdraft
But somehow I still had dinner money in my pocket
And even the little things like ordering pizza
Were probably the reason for overtime in the evening
Five till ten, six hours of sleeping
For 22 years my mum was doing the cleaning
Dreaming that her kids would have a better life
Go in bed at night, struggling with getting by
That’s the reality for millions of people in a nation
Where a lot of us were looking for a second try

A question for the new prime minister
And please, tell me if I’m being narrowminded
But how do we spend so much money on defence
And weapons to wage war when the NHS is dying? Nurses in tears ’cause they’re working every hour of the week
And they still don’t have the money that they need
You brought the heart of the nation to its knees
Underpaid, understaffed, overworked
And overseen by people who can’t ever understand
How it feels to live life like you and me
Patients lying in the corridors
‘Cause doctors can’t even find a bed for them to sleep
I remember A&E and all them sickening screams
Of a little girl waiting for a surgeon to be seen
Privatized healthcare, guns for police
Increased uni fees, is this what they’re selling us? Look
A question for the new prime minister
How’d you have a heart so sinister? You gonna teach your little lad to be the man that’s got a plan
And then the moment that it fails to abandon it? I mean you never gave a fuck about the youth and that’s the truth
There’s no sympathy for you or your cabinet
I really wish I could’ve seen how you were scramblin’
When you lost the referendum that you had to win
I feel like politicians are all addicts
In a big fat game but it’s lives that you gamble with
I’ve got a question for the leader of the Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn, where do you wanna take the country to? Man, if I’m being honest, sir, I’m struggling to get with it
I just ain’t getting it
Everybody’s great until you get them into office and then guys start forgetting things
Prove to us you’re different, don’t promise me anything
Go and get justice for Rashan Charles and Edison
And if you haven’t had the thought to vote yet
Or protest ’cause you don’t really see the progress
I hope you know that what they’re saying is affecting us
The small steps are way better than no steps And when you pick them up after class, can you feel his embarrassment? Bursting at the seams, and what about them people
That voted for us to leave for the money that it would see? Are there bullies in his school? When you got drones killing kids just touching ten
Then when a bomb goes off, every politician’s lost
Like that last strike that didn’t kill a hundred men
You ain’t the same as them
But all that fuel for the fire is what you gave to them
And what you take from them
All my life I know my mum’s been working
In and out of nursing, struggling, hurting
I just find it fucked that the government is struggling
To care for a person that cares for a person
So where’s the discussion on wages and budgets? How are you so wasteful when people are dying in Somalia
Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya? The irony is we have no business in Syria
But kids are getting killed for all the business in Syria
And then they try and tell you it’s ISIS, it’s ISIS
In their attempts at killing it, how many civilians
Died, so what’s the difference between us and them?