Wednesday, October 08, 2014

La cara oculta

La cara oculta (English title: The Hidden Face) is a film that has more potential than was realised by the director: the basic plot is superb. However, the director goes for the usual hair-raising stuff of crashing thunder, strange events happening that only one person seems to perceive, and something happening when in bath: there is also the more banal stuff of stuffing your film with hot-looking ladies, their nude figures, and an expressionless, debonair man. In a film that could have been a lot more about the psychology of captivity, of horror and of jealousy, the focus is not even on mystery - for whoever has watched the trailer knows what's happening even before the midpoint of the film - but on the resolution of a seemingly hopeless situation. This is where the film falters: it is an almost unbelievable story but told in the most ordinary cinematic language.

Yes, there is a lot of focus in the first half on mirrors: but even that dissolves when the mystery is revealed. A mirror troubles human conscience, for you see yourself: you do not know why, you do not know what the mirror is going to present to you, and you do not know if there is someone or something on the other side, and if yes, then who or what. A mirror redirects our gaze to ourself, but more to what we project: we may have believed something else, and now we perceive ourselves, yet not as we know ourselves to be, but as we see with our own faculties. We create an idea of ourselves as we seem to others; and there we rest. For we cannot dive into the mirror like we can in a pool of water; we cannot break through its disturbing stillness. Baiz, the director, unfortunately shows us both sides of the mirror: and that too with a lot of melodrama, which at times appears childish. Even the spell of lights going out and events happening in bathrooms is broken: a film that could have been a supreme inquiry into man's deepest fears, perceptions and beliefs is reduced to a thriller with some skin play, some romance, some poorly drawn out characters. It is a film designed to satisfy audiences with popcorn on a Sunday afternoon, seeking to spend a couple of hours of their life distracted.

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