The Body (2012)
(Original Spanish language, English subtitles)
I make no secret of my love for foreign language films. I really like to discover new ones, those where the actors are unknown to me, and the story has an unusual slant. On first sight, this modern Spanish thriller takes a theme we have seen before, the theft of a woman’s body from the morgue. Then we see some events in flashback, setting the scene for how the body arrived in the first place. The detective in charge of the case has many familiar traits. He lost his wife in an accident, went off the rails, and has recently returned to work after therapy. Starting to sound depressingly familiar, I know.
But don’t be fooled. This is a taut thriller with superb pacing, and little is as it seems to be on the surface. The young husband of the dead woman is brought in for questioning, as the police seek some background as a reason why the body may have been stolen. He’s not a likable man, and the detective distrusts him immediately. Add to that the viewer is privy to many details seen in those flashbacks, and we have a cat and mouse game on our hands as the husband and the cop lock in a battle of wits.
More backstory is thrown into the mix. The detective’s daughter is now living in Berlin, and he hardly sees her. The husband has a young lover, one of his university students. And a mysterious unseen person seems to know everything that happened, leaving tantalising clues around the police station, much to the consternation of the increasingly worried husband. During a night of torrential rain, storms, and power cuts, the story unfolds in just the right way, never revealing too much or too little. The viewer is left in no doubt what has really happened. Or are they?
The final scene is a twist that is simply masterful. I certainly didn’t get it, and the way it unfolds is beautifully done. I haven’t seen a better ending since ‘The Usual Suspects’, so that’s high praise indeed. One of the best mystery thrillers I have seen in years, and highly recommended, if you can tolerate the subtitles. Here’s a trailer.