Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gathr Previews Series: The Body

A lot of people joke about there being an inverse relationship between a movie's quality and its attendance (some more seriously and bitterly than others), but Tuesday night's screening of The Body seemed like a fairly literal example of it - it's the best movie that the Gathr Preview Series has shown since The Broken Circle Breakdown, but without a tie-in, it was one of the smaller crowds since the weeks when I was coming alone.

It maybe also didn't help that it was a Spanish-language film as well as being a thriller; I don't know if either of these alone will push this series's & venue's audience away, but a lot of the time I've seen that, outside the dedicated fan, those who like foreign/indie things and those who like genre material can each be a little wary of the other. It's a shame, because I tend to think that the overlap is often where a lot of the most exciting things happen.

So, because of that, it probably makes commercial sense that Gathr doesn't have a lot of genre material beyond this Halloween special. It's a shame, because there are a lot of folks making low-budget genre movies both here and abroad who would probably dig the exposure, even if it doesn't appear that a release is particularly imminent. Heck, I don't know if anybody's got the US rights to The Body at all - just because there was a Sony Pictures logo at the front doesn't necessarily mean Columbia/Tri-Star/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics will pick it up.

They should; it's a good one, and even if it's hard to get into theaters, there's got to be a way to make it visible on VOD.

El Cuerpo (The Body)

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 29 October 2013 at Regent Theatre (Gathr Preview Series, digital)

The Body (El Cuerpo in Spanish) is the sort of thriller that to all appearances never lets the audience get too far behind - in fact, it often feels like the viewers are ahead of the characters. That may sound like a mistake, but director Oriol Paulo and co-writer Lara Sendim do such a good job of keeping the details that hold the structure that the audience sees together just out of reach that the movie's crimes would be fun to puzzle out even if it wasn't the well-polished production it turns out to be.

As it starts out, a couple of people have just arrived home to Barcelona after journeys abroad. Jaime Peña (José Coronado) has just been to Berlin to see his estranged daughter, and as the detective is called in on a late-night hit-and-run, it doesn't seem like things went well. But, as his partner Pablo (Juan Pablo Shuk) tells him, this isn't any ordinary accident - the victim was a security guard at the morgue who bolted from the building in fear. That brings them to Mayka Villaverde (Belén Rueda), the wealthy owner of a number of companies who returned home from a business trip to Los Angeles and promptly died of a heart attack. Except her body is missing from the morgue, and while the forensic pathologist (Cristina Plazas) who examined her wonders if maybe she had been cataleptic, Mayka's husband Alex (Hugo Silva) and his young lover Carla Miller (Aura Garrido) seem to have good reason to suspect that's not the case. But if it isn't... Well, what is going on?

That's the multi-million dollar question, and it is a deliciously tantalizing one: Paulo & Sendim set up a situation where an explanation that would be pretty outlandish in the real world seems to be the one that fits the facts the best, but doesn't fit them so well that nothing else would make sense. It gives the audience pieces to fit together but not in such a way that what's going on seems disconnected or random, and with Alex positioned as the protagonist most of the time, the audience gets to indulge in a tangy combination of rooting for the bad guy and schadenfreude as the box he's in grows tighter.

Full review at EFC.

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