Funny and romantic, this Spanish import is worth a second look


on December 29, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
Set in 1913 Barcelona, during the rise of Freud and the new mind-science of psychoanalysis, Alma (Leonor Watling of Bad Education ), the very pregnant wife of Freudian novice Leon (Alex Brendemuhl), engages her brother-in-law Salvador (Luis Tosar, Miami Vice ), also a psychiatrist, to help her find her husband, who mysteriously disappears after a highly intriguing opening sequence. Damsel-in-distress Alma — who even nine months pregnant is too alluring to refuse — cajoles Salvador into taking up the search, during which it is in fact her Holmesian analytical skills that put them on the trail of Leon, not to mention a plethora family secrets involving her analyst Father, housekeeper, sister and a number of women whom Leon treated for what was commonly called hysteria. It's all highly Freudian, indeed.

Cultural taboos from patricide to incest are at play, and Spanish director Joaquin Oristrell's Unconscious is an absolutely delightful movie — that is, despite those ostensibly distressing subjects — and most of all funny, wonderfully romantic and sexy. The film is a combination of styles and modes, ranging from episodic vignettes to magical realism, with touches of thriller and mystery, comedy and, of course, romance. Even with the burden of subtitles in a film where the repartee comes fast and sharp, the visuals are sumptuous and the actors lovely. Unconscious is worth the effort to divide your senses and take in every aspect. If necessary, just see it twice: Read it the first time, watch it the second. Distributor: Regent
Cast: Leonor Watling, Luis Tosar, Alex Brendemuhl, Mercedes Sampietro, Nuria Prims, Ana Rayo, Juanjo Puigcorbe and Marieta Orozco
Director: Joaquin Oristrell
Screenwriters: Dominic Harari, Joaquin Oristrell and Teresa Pelegri
Producers: Mariela Besuievski, Marta Esteban and Gerardo Herrero
Genre: Romantic comedy/mystery; Spanish-language, subtitled
Rating: R for sexual content including dialogue, and some drug material
Running time: 108 min.
Release date: December 29, 2006 SF

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