The Body first to make Sitges festival-goers leap in their seats
by Domenico La Porta
- Catalan company Rodar y Rodar’s new production has opened the 45th Sitges Fantastic Film Festival. Fans of The Orphanage had been waiting for it for a long time
Much to the delight of fans of The Orphanage [+see also:
film profile] (El Orfenato), Catalan company Rodar y Rodar’s new production has opened the 45th Sitges Fantastic Film Festival and introduced the public to a new film director: Oriol Paulo who previously co-wrote Julia’s Eyes [+see also:
film profile] (Los Ojos de Julia).
Paulo’s The Body (El Cuerpo [+see also:
film profile]) is a tightly knitted together thriller, much in the tradition of Hitchock’s Rope, that is typical of the new tradition of Spanish genre cinema and worthy of its two predecessors by Rodar y Rodar mentioned above.
When Mayka (Belén Rueda)’s body disappears from the morgue, detective Peña (José Coronado) immediately suspects Alex (Hugo Silva), the victim’s young husband. His young age and venality are probably the causes behind a murder made to look like a heart attack to gain access to a large inheritance. Peña grills Alex, who slowly starts to break down as the plot thickens and Mayka seems to have returned from the dead to take revenge. The crime was almost perfect, but the victims now don’t seem to be the ones that we first thought they were.
The rich wife, the ambitious husband, his mistress, and a devious policeman struggling with his own demons: It all makes for a good thriller. The Bodyis a wise mixture between a thriller and a horror film, with many tricks borrowed from this second genre. Between leaps in their seats at a sudden appearance on screen or a sound peak, the audience is plunged into the crepuscular atmosphere typical of Óscar Faura’s cinematography (The Machinist, The Orphanage). Just as traditionally, the film is almost permanently set to music, another trait of Spanish genre cinema that often divides international audiences, but that works for this film. As for the cast, veterans from the Spanish audiovisual industry like Coronado act opposite the very solid Hugo Silva in the main role (and soon to appear in Pedro Almodóvar’s next film). The actor displays worrying charisma while always appearing to be the perfect son-in-law. It is this ambivalence in most characters (also very strong in Belén Rueda’s character, as shown via several flashbacks) that makes the film’s ending both uncertain and unpredictable, despite the promise of a surprising final twist.
While one could qualify The Body as classic in its form, theme, and interpretation, it however also stands on its own as a good cinematic tale-with-a-twist that is often captivating for the most well-weathered spectator, and probably is even more absorbing for the general public. One can feel the influence of training at the University of Los Angeles in Paulo’s film, and this works well with Joaquín Padró’s label Rodar y Rodar that specifically targets Anglo-Saxon markets. It’s a recipe that has turned out to be very profitable in the past, and that can always be changed when the audience tires of it or its chef wants to concoct a slightly more personal dish...
(Translated from French)