Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mientras duermes


César (Luis Tosar) is the lonely concierge of a high-rise apartment building who opens the movie by telling us that he is not happy before almost jumping off from the rooftop of the very building where he works. Why? His life seems pretty normal and defined by daily routine: pay hospitalized mother a visit; hide under tenant 5B’s bed until she falls asleep; make her lose consciousness through a hanky dosed with what could be chloroform; and inject some weird emulsion in her toothpaste tube and morning cream. Wait, what? Yes, by then you would know that César is a creepy psychopath, but his determination to ruin this woman‘s life is simply intriguing to brush aside. Is he really just a pervert in desperate need to get laid, or is his every move backed up by a detailed history that would help explain his behavior? The plot thickens. 

The good thing about this annual Spanish film festival is that the movies shown are really screened to make sure that you do not leave the cinema disappointed, and so my modus operandi for how many years now is to just buy a ticket and see the movie, without having a clue as to what it is about. Most of the time I am not disappointed, and this film is part of that “most of the time”. This thriller just keeps you on the edge of your seat without having you witness some explosion or car chase. The main character is just plain creepy, and the many troubles he gets into because of his strange behavior serve as the main source of that adrenaline rush.

Another thing worthy of note is that the plot itself seems a bit ridiculous, and the many narrow escapes that César manages to pull off ramps up the suspension of disbelief to incredibly high levels, but still you will find your eyes glued to the screen. You actually care, and for that, this movie deserves the endorsement. Suffice it to say that it is not boring. There are several low points but they are strategically spread out to serve as some sort of breather in between the intense scenes.

If you decide to delve into the story or psychoanalyze César, then you might be in for some head-ache inducing dilemma because that guy seems to be unreadable. There is not enough of a back story to support the deranged demeanor that he has, which leaves you constantly wondering why he acts the way he does, but it is obviously stemming from somewhere. The one-sided conversation with the hospitalized mother provides some glimpse of what is happening inside his head, but other than that you are left with nothing. In that way, the characterization seems to lack justification, but then is it not more fun that way? More freaky in a sense and somehow adds to the thrill!

What is strange, though, is the way people in the audience held their breath every time Cesár is almost caught. Come to think of it, he IS the antagonist here, but maybe it is because of the presentation of the story from his point of view that he gets the audience’s sympathy.

All in all, the premise is interesting enough to get you hooked, but you better not expect solid answers in the end on why things eventually end up the way they do in this movie. Perhaps that is a way of making you think more about what-ifs. Nonetheless, it will keep you annoyed and paranoid for at least one night, thinking that there might be a psycho under your bed wreaking havoc on your sanity without you even noticing. Scary, and something that you can watch over and over again when you are bored and without anything to do, if you want some self-induced paranoia, that is.

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