Movie Ramblings: La Cara Oculta (The Hidden Face)


A Spanish mystery thriller about a man whose girlfriend goes missing and how his life changes as a result. Interestingly you don’t know where the film is going for a long while and it does a really good job of keeping you guessing until a scene, just a few seconds long, about halfway through, which feels like it has given the whole thing away. You quickly find that there is still more to discover but it still feels like a child carefully telling a complicated joke who, seeing the end approaching, gets carried away and blurts out the punchline too early.

Adrian does some conducting
Adrian does some conducting

Adrian is a conductor whose designer girlfriend Belen thinks he is cheating on her with a violinist from his orchestra. Fed up with his behaviour she leaves him a video message saying that she can’t stay with him and disappears. Adrian’s life starts to fall apart until he finds himself drunk and being taken home by barmaid Fabiana.

Adrian does some drinkinng
Adrian does some drinkinng

In what seems a damningly short time, to the viewer as well as his friends and the police, Adrian starts a relationship with Fabiana and she essentially moves in to the house he used to share with Belen. After finding out about the missing girlfriend, Fabiana starts to feel more and more uncomfortable in the creepy old house and starts to suspect that something supernatural might be going on.

Fabiana has suspicions that something is going on
Fabiana has suspicions that something is going on

This story is told in two parts which overlap chronologically. The first part of the movie starts with the break up of Adrian and Belen and carries on to Adrian’s new relationship with Fabiana. Part two skips back to early in the relationship with Belen, covers the reasons behind her insecurity and eventually shows where she went to and why. Towards the end of part 2 the story starts to overlap with the end of part 1 and we see some events from a different perspective which explains some things and puts a more sinister twist on others. Finally the two stories have merged and it is time for the final twists and climax.

Belen doesn't like what she sees
Belen doesn’t like what she sees

I found it slightly difficult to tell when the switch between the two parts of the story happened. This is probably mostly due to having to concentrate on the subtitles to follow the dialogue so I wasn’t concentrating on the faces enough to notice when the main actress changed. So I was a bit confused for 10 minutes or so in the middle!

To me it really didn’t feel like there was much acting in this film. I think that’s a compliment. Rather it felt like I was watching the characters doing what the characters would do rather than an actor interpreting a role.

The moral to take away from this one is if you think your boyfriend is cheating go with the traditional responses: either leave him or hire a private investigator. Whatever you do, don’t pretend to leave him and then spy on him to see what he does.


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