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The Hidden Face (2011)

La cara oculta

The Hidden Face (La cara oculta) – A Spanish orchestra conductor deals with the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend.

My good friend Gary has been banging on about how I should watch this movie for a few months now. He convinced Eric to watch it and he loved it, so I eventually took the plunge and watched it, just to see what they were going on about. You know what? I’m angry at myself for waiting this long. What a great movie. I’ll get to my thoughts in a second, but before that here are a couple of quotes I’ve borrowed from their reviews. Hit up the links to see their full thoughts, and thank you both for opening my eyes to this film.

This is not an action movie or a comedy or anything of the sort; nor is it bloody or gory or features serial killers. It’s a serious movie that takes its time and fucking deliversEric – full review

Since I didn’t know the twist in advance I was thrown for a loop; what a GENIUS turn-of-events that I in no-way, shape, or form saw coming in the slightest. I cannot recall seeing anything done quite like it before! Gary – full review

hidden face

As for my thoughts? Well, sometimes less is more, and the best thing I can do for those of you reading this is just to tell you to stop what you’re doing and go find a copy of The Hidden Face. It really is that good. I went into it based on Gary & Eric telling me not to watch or read anything about it, and that’s what I did. Having since watched the trailer (after the film) I can confirm the first 5 seconds of it give away the huge twist. What the hell were the marketing folks thinking?!?! It’s kind of like The Sixth Sense trailer starting by telling you ***** is a *****. Crazy. So please, don’t watch the trailer, don’t go on IMDb or read anything that might give things away. I will give you some basic info below, and hopefully that is enough to tempt a few of you to check it out.

La cara oculta, or to give it the English translated name The Hidden Face, is directed by Andrés Baiz and as you might have guessed is in Spanish and requires you to read subtitles. That will be enough to put off a few people, but for those that aren’t too lazy to pay attention and read subtitles, you will get a movie unlike anything else being made. Comparisons to stories from Hitchcock and Poe are compliments I’m sure to Baiz, and he has given us a special movie here.

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At the beginning we are introduced to Adrian (Quim Gutiérrez), a successful Spanish Orchestra conductor hired by the Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra in Columbia. Moving to Bogota from Spain with his girlfriend Belen (Clara Lago), they take up residence in a charming secluded mansion. However, soon after moving, Belen suspects Adrian to be a two timing womanizer, and so she sets a trap to expose him. In doing so she inadvertently sets about a chain of events that will change their lives forever.

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After returning home one day to find a video by Belen informing him she is leaving, Adrian wallows in dejection at a local bar. He is charmed by the affections of a waitress, Fabiana (Martina García). After a while they become an item, and Fabiana moves in. Before long, Fabiana is plagued with a nagging sensation and suspects foul play behind Belen’s disappearance. Adrian becomes a suspect in the disappearance of Belen, yet the investigators can find no evidence of Adrian’s involvement in Belen’s disappearance.

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To say anymore about the plot would ruin it. I will say that the twist around the half way point blew my mind, and was in no way what I anticipated. I was making a few guesses as the film progressed, but I was not expecting what I saw. I even watched it twice in the same day, I just had to watch it again. I actually improved my score after the second viewing.

The acting is superb, I can’t really pick anyone out as it would be unfair. They all add to the experience, and I never felt I knew who I could trust and who was playing games. The time flies by and the pacing was pretty much perfect. Proof once again that Europe is making some phenomenal movies whilst the US concentrates on it’s Superhero/comic book money grabbing phase.

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It’s not perfect, I had a couple of issues with little things, but that’s not a discussion for here. I won’t be doing spoilers, the film deserves better than that. It’s a thoughtful, intense, uniquely claustrophobic thriller and a brilliant example of how a gripping whodunnit should be. Give it a chance if you can, I can’t imagine you being disappointed.

Ratings09

  • Just as a quick extra, I would like to thank Morgan & Sir Phobos for their advice with my A-Z index. All fixed now, and hope it sheds a little light and attention on some old reviews you may have missed. I appreciate any extra views on those reviews, and as an incentive I added a load of new site headers. OK – no great incentive as such, but I think they look good and if you all click about 20 different times for different images, you may like one or two (plus it would boost the hell out of my stats) 🙂
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78 Comments

  1. I haven’t even heard of this one. Looks to be really cool and it’s full of lovely ladies. Thanks for pointing me in its direction, Tyson!

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    • No worries mate, I hadn’t either. Glad I was nagged into watching it, well worth it. Plus, lots of hot (naked!!) girls 🙂

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    • GaryLee828

       /  June 27, 2013

      Damn it, Nick, you better start paying attention to my blog!! 🙂

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  2. theipc

     /  June 27, 2013

    Great write up!!

    This movie was fantastic – way to do a good job and not spoil anything, Hustler. Good work!! I’m digging your new headers too! : )

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  3. Cracking review as always. You always pluck out an interesting title. Need to add this one to my list!

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    • Cheers buddy. Sometimes people hassling me into watching something is required!! Hopefully now I can pass it on and force people into checking this out. Excellent film, hope you can track a copy down 🙂

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  4. I’ll put this on the list, Tyson. Thanks.

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  5. I actually saw this. I found it kind of slow. It was not bad, but I wouldn’t seek it out.

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    • Oh really? I’m surprised, but we can’t all like the same stuff. Good to disagree sometimes. 🙂

      I thought it was a solid build up, and then the twist just ramped the tension and pace right up. At least you’ve seen it 🙂

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      • GaryLee828

         /  June 27, 2013

        Yeah, I got Teepee to watch a few months ago; she wasn’t crazy about it, but I was glad she gave it a try, nonetheless.

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  6. GaryLee828

     /  June 27, 2013

    Glad you liked it! Hopefully now when I give you a recommendation you will trust me. 🙂

    That’s why I created a blog in the first place was to offer up recommendations; that’s why I don’t publish that many entries. I just wanted to primarily make a page to list recommendations for films that may not get much recognition.

    Of course I am always glad when others turn me on to films I haven’t heard of, as well.

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    • Haha, yeah was never down to not trusting you. It’s Eric that worries me, as soon as he loved it I got a little sceptical. 😉

      It was great, as I mentioned a couple of bits were a little out of place, but I was definitely miles off with my guesses. Always good when a film surprises like that. 🙂

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      • GaryLee828

         /  June 27, 2013

        Yeah, I know; it sucks that so many films are so predictable, and adhere so strictly to the typical formula – especially the mainstream ones that generate the most buzz, and rake in the most money.

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        • Makes it more worthwhile though when stuff like this comes along. Even if not as many people see it. I still can’t believe they would ruin it with the trailer though 😦

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  7. I actually just watched this movie on Netflix streaming a couple of weeks ago, and I, too, was seriously impressed with this film. I definitely didn’t see the twist coming. It starts out as if it’s going to be a ghost story, but it becomes much more, as you say, like a Hitchcock classic. Definitely worth watching. Nice review,
    Bill

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    • Yeah I wasn’t sure what to expect. It went a little like ‘What Lies Beneath’ at one point, but I was way off base. Very clever, I hope more people get to see it and enjoy it. Glad you liked it! Cheers Bill 🙂

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  8. Holy shit, how have I not heard of this? Spanish horror is typically fantastic. Going to find this. Now.

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  9. I saw that you had written a post and, without reading it, went to see the trailer. In all honesty, the trailer made the film look a little cheesy so it put me off. Then I read your review soooooooooooo I may have changed my mind. I’ll give it a go and hopeful they play it in a theater nearby.

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    • Damn, now you’ve gone and ruined the twist for yourself! 🙂

      Definitely not cheesy, especially if you didn’t know how it was all going to play out. Streaming online Netflix if you ever wanted to try it, unless you see it on TV one day 🙂

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      • I know, right? But I’ve got a faulty movie-ending memory so I’ll be good!

        I wish Netflix had the option of allowing you to see what they offer before going in on the deal….grumble, grumble….

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        • Ha, well I hope you still get surprised by it!

          I don’t use Netflix here in the UK (as it’s rubbish) so I don’t know how it works. You mean you have to buy it before you know anything about it?

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        • I go to the Netflix page and it tells me to register. No info on what movies they offer so I don’t know if I want it. The first month is apparently free but I’d like to know if I can take advantage of the service first! We’ll see if I can find another alternative.

          But I’ll take your word for it and will make the extra effort to see it.

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        • I’ll feel terrible if you hate it, but I’m confident you will love it like I did 🙂

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        • I will totally let you know when I see it. I am terrible at horror type movies but this is more suspense than anything…right? :S

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        • Definitely more intrigue and suspense than horror. With a bit of sex thrown in 😉

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        • GaryLee828

           /  June 28, 2013

          Tyson, what Tauromaja means is you cannot peruse the selections before purchasing your first month of netflix streaming; so you aren’t sure what’s available for streaming until you sign-up. It’s not a big deal b/c ultimately there’s generally enough for everybody – not to mention they have so many TV shows to choose from it can actually become exhausting. Which is a good thing. 🙂

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        • Ah ok cheers Gary. Your always teaching me new things 🙂

          Over here its way behind Lovefilm with regards to choice and selection for rentals.

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        • Thanks Gary. Exactly what I meant!

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  10. LG

     /  June 28, 2013

    Glad that you watched it. I loved it as well.
    In the same vein, if you have not watched yet, watch “Thank you for smoking” and “Reclaim your brain”. I found those off-beat and interesting as well.

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    • Thanks for the recommendations, I will have to go look for those. Not heard of the second one you listed.

      Glad you loved it, nice to see a few more people have actually seen it 🙂

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  11. I just watched it, had to get in on the action. Clever film. I liked it. However; the maestro needs to clean his ears. I nearly barfed it was so off-putting.

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    • Nice!! Thanks for giving it a shot, glad you liked it. I’m not a big music of that type lover so that side of it skipped me by really…..saw a few people complaining about it on imdb forums though.

      Thanks for getting in on the action Marc 🙂

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  12. Solid flick but I didn’t give it a glorious review like you guys have, but its a nice enough film to recommend.

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    • I’ll have to swing by and check out your thoughts properly, any reviews of it in the past I saw I skipped really to avoid any details until I’d seen it.

      Shame it didn’t work as well for you Issy, but at least you’ve seen it 🙂

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  13. You just made the Mrs’ day, and she doesn’t even know it yet. The girl loves horror/suspense and anything in Spanish.

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  14. Nicely done mate, this sounds really interesting. Definitely fancy checking this out now, sounds like my kinda thing.

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  15. Never heard of it before but from what you’ve said it sounds really good. I’ll have to add it to the long list of films I must get round to seeing.

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    • It is very good Lauren. I’m the same as you though, lots of films on a huge list to see! So little time…….. 🙂

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      • Having said I didn’t think I’d get round to seeing it I actually watched it last night on Virgin Movies On Demand! Very good but they give away the twist in the film description as you’re ordering the movie so I couldn’t avoid reading it. So annoying! But I made my sister look away so she didn’t see it, so at least she was able to enjoy the film spoiler free. We both really liked it, but why do they have to give away the spolier like that!

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        • That sucks!!! Pretty shitty thing for Virgin to do. I’m glad at least your sister could be surprised! Great that you enjoyed it, just a shame the best part was spoiled for you. Thanks for checking it out though Lauren 🙂

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  16. Abbi

     /  June 28, 2013

    This sounds like something even I would like!

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  17. Excellent, now you’ve made me want to watch it. Thanks for the heads up!

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  18. This sounds wonderful! Going to have to find this one Tyson baby!

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  19. I’m somewhat surprised this movie is so obscure. There aren’t even that many reviews out there for it, although Gary’s promotion of this film is changing that apparently. 😉

    Great review! I just posted one as well: http://bit.ly/19A86XI

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    • Gary is on a one man mission, Im beginning to think he is part of it somehow! I thought I was well informed with European cinema, but obviously not as this passed me by. Such a shame, everyone should watch this!

      Thanks Mark, I’ll head over and check out your thoughts, interested to see your take on it. 🙂

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  20. Checked it out after reading this review a while back – it was great! Definitely didn’t guess the twist, and (I’m ashamed to admit) was actually suckered in by some of the red herrings!

    Don’t know what the hell the marketers were thinking with that trailer though! Glad I took your advice and skipped it before seeing!

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    • Thanks for giving it a shot Dave. I was fooled by things also, thats the beauty of it I guess. But yeah, the trailer was ridiculous, I bet the writer/director were pissed off, all the hard work crafting a clever film and the trailer gives it away after 2 seconds!

      Glad you liked it, cheers Dave 🙂

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