Dir: Joaquin Oristrell.Sp-Port-Ger-It. 108mins.
Spain's Joaquin Oristrelltakes time off from contemporary urban dramas and, with Unconscious,delivers an attractive and witty mystery comedy that maintains its screwballenergy throughout.
Although the elements ofperiod comedy, an unappealing title and foreign language might deter somebuyers from looking deeper into this delightful Sherlock Holmes-Meets-Freudpiece, distributors and festivals prepared to take it on should see its humourslice through language barriers.
The film has already in festivals at Toronto and Bangkok Film Festivalbefore competing in the World Dramatic Competition at Sundance. Nominated forfive Goyas at home (where it took $1m), sales include here! Films (US), Istituto Luce (It), Mandala (Mex),Eurocine (Arg) and Filmoteca Nacional (Ven) among others.
The playful lightweight toneis set from the start as Silent Film credits depict the marvels of 1913,including the discovery of ecstasy, the invention of the bra and the crosswordand Freud's studies of sex - none of which have yet reached Spain.
In Barcelona Alma Pardo(Watling), the pregnant wife of respected psychiatrist Leon (Brendemuhl), turnsto his apparently conservative friend Salvador (Tosar) after her husbandsuddenly flees their home in tears.
The incident kickstarts anunusual rollercoaster of a love-story, propelled by misunderstandings, secrets(personal and state) and repressed feelings.
The unlikely pair's onlyclue is Leon's manuscript about four hysterical female patients, whichintroduces several outlandish characters.
Humour swings between thebroad and the understated, throwing in everything from a Dr Alzheimer who can'tremember his speech, cross-dressing and jokes about Salvador's apparentlyenormous member to more subtle digs about psychoanalysis, sexism and identity.
At times the setting andtone are reminiscent of Gene Wilder's 1975 The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes'Smarter Brother. One memorable scene sees Salvador accidentally hypnotisehimself and declare his love for his pregnant sister-in-law, then exposehimself at an upmarket restaurant.
Apart from the sparklingscript, the film's other major asset are its two wonderfully comic leads,Leonor Watling (Talk To Her, Bad Education) and Luis Tosar (TakeMy Eyes, Mondays In The Sun): the former in particular is absolutelyradiant as the neurotic Freud aficionado, who gives free reign to her emotions.
Strong production valuesinclude excellent set and costume design and fine location work around Gaudi'smodernist houses in Barcelona. The score by Sergio Moure strikes all the rightnotes for this kind of farce.
Prod co: Tornasol Films, Messidor Films, Classic, MadragoaProducao de Filmes, EMC Assets
Int'l sales: Latido
Sp dist: Alta Classics
Exec prod: Marta Esteban
Prod: Gerardo Herrero, MarielaBesuievsky
Scr: Joaquin Oristrell, Teresa dePelegri, Dominic Harari
Cine: Jaume Peracaula
Ed: Miguel Angel Santamaria
Prod des: Josean Gomez
Music: Sergio Moure
Main cast: Leonor Watling, LuisTosar, Mercedes Sampietro, Juanjo Puigcorbe, Alex Brendemuhl