European films

Film review: The Invisible Guest – Spanish murder mystery a fun ride despite implausible turns

Director Oriol Paulo’s film tugs at the loose threads of a man’s alibi who is accused of murdering his lover, exposing how just one lie can unravel into a full-blown tragedy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 January, 2018, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 January, 2018, 6:02pm

3/5 stars

A wealthy Barcelona businessman accused of murdering his mistress has just three hours to prepare his testimony in The Invisible Guest, a stylish and complex thriller by Spanish writer-director Oriol Paulo.

Adrian Doria (Mario Casas) claims that both he and his lover, Laura (Barbara Lennie), were attacked by an unseen assailant, who then vanished from their locked hotel room. His lawyer sends top witness coach Virginia Gooseman (Ana Wagener) to help him get his story straight before the judge calls him to the stand, which could happen any minute.

Similar in execution to Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects , The Invisible Guest unfolds in a series of flashbacks, as Adrian hastily recounts the events leading up to Laura’s death, while Virginia’s probing questions untangle a web of lies dating back to the disappearance of a young man three months previously.

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Paulo’s screenplay tugs expertly at the loose threads of Adrian’s alibi, exposing how a single lie or poor decision can unravel into a full-blown tragedy that ruins families and claims lives. The assured, at times bombastic direction, as well as the passionate performances, help distract from the more implausible aspects of the plot, which never quite proves as clever as Paulo thinks it is.

The final reveal should be obvious from very early on, but as the film treats every piece of new information as though it were a final twist, audiences may well get sufficiently swept up in its operatic enthusiasm to just go along for the ride.

The Invisible Guest opens on January 25

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