A man is accused of the murder of his mistress. He says he didn’t do it. We’ve seen it before. But the atmosphere and the way the plot unfolds in Contratiempo (The Invisible Guest), a 2016 thriller written and directed by Oriol Paulo, is gripping and keeps you tense right up to the end. The man is Adrián Doria (Mario Casas), an important businessman, who has everything to lose. His lawyer hires another attorney, Virginia Goodman (Ana Wagener), who has never lost a case, to help them prepare the defense for the prosecution. She appears at his door at night telling him they have just a few hours to go through the story again in order for her to tightly build her case. They pace, argue, and challenge each other in one room. It’s a clever cat and mouse battle, giving way to a puzzle of a story where truth and lie are interchangeable.
Lately I find myself wanting to talk about films that are everything but American. They usually ARE better. I am sure there are so many we don’t get to watch at all. And whenever I do watch one that I love, I can’t wait to recommend it. To what I have said in the previous paragraph, I want to point out two other things. First, Contratiempo is a beautiful looking film (in the same manner in which Almodóvar’s La piel que habito is beautiful), with a monochromatic, dark colour scheme, in pace with the narrative, contrasting indoor simple, close shots with flyovers of Spanish mountains and forest roadways, as the scenes move fluidly between present day and Doria’s recounting. And the music, I want to talk about the music, composed by Fernando Velázquez. It tells the story in itself. You feel the suspense, the danger, the questions, the doubts through the music. The one downside I can think of is that Bárbara Lennie (as Laura Vidal), Ana Wagener and José Coronado (as Tomás Garrido) outstage Mario Casas in every scene. But it only highlights everything else, that is really, really good, about the movie.
photo: film still | Atresmedia Cine, Think Studio, Nostromo Pictures