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The Hidden Face

Too bad the marketing doesn’t also hide the surprise.

Rod Lott April 9th, 2012

When Adrián (Quim Gutiérrez) left Spain for a one-year conducting gig with the Bogotá Philharmonic, he took his adoring girlfriend, Belen, with him. But one day, he comes home to a video message of her announcing she's leaving him, and not to come looking for her. It's as enigmatic as it is out of left field.


Drowning his sorrows in drink soon leads Adrián into the warm embrace of a button-cute waitress, Fabiana (Martina García), and they fall in love. All's well again, but the police suspect something is up with Belen's inexplicable vanishing act.

Something is up in The Hidden Face, a thriller from Spain new to DVD on the Fox World Cinema label, and the film houses a cinematic rarity: a twist that's original.

However, there's a real problem with that: The surprise is spoiled on the back of the box and its theatrical trailer. I'm glad I wasn't exposed to either before viewing, because the twist is one I don't recall seeing before, and it's rather clever in that it re-colors your assumptions accumulated in the first act.

Certainly this was director/co-writer Andi Baiz's intention all along, because he skillfully maneuvers you one way, only to rip off our blindfold to show us something else entirely. The reveal makes you do a 180˚ turn in your thoughts of the characters, which is always pleasant in an industry that thrives on spoon-feeding predictability.

So why in the hell would the marketing team want to ruin all that? I suspect audiences' appreciation for the film would be lessened markedly going in with knowledge of what happens, so don't. This is a case where being clueless is to your advantage. Enjoy this stylish, sexy, suspenseful mystery without seeking any further info. —Rod Lott

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