Unconscious

Film
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
HYSTERICAL PREGNANCY Watling is spellbound.
HYSTERICAL PREGNANCY Watling is spellbound.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

An unexpected cloud break in the gloomy postholiday movie season, this smart, exceedingly charming romp defies pat categorization. Equal parts sex comedy, period piece and whodunit (although deducing what was done to whom is the bigger challenge), Unconscious cheekily acknowledges its genre influences without resorting to stale self-satisfaction. Indeed, it takes surprising turns right up to the closing credits.

Set in Barcelona in 1913, the film begins with the sudden disappearance of psychoanalyst Len Mira (Brendemhl). His willful, very pregnant wife, Alma (the fittingly hypnotic Watling), drafts her repressed brother-in-law, Salvador (Tosar), who’s also a shrink, to help track down her wayward spouse. Using Len’s dissertation on female hysteria as a guide, their investigation leads to encounters with the staff of a stag-film studio, revelers at a drag ball, an accommodating neighborhood pharmacist and Sigmund Freud, as well as several shocking interpersonal discoveries. Chief among the latter, naturally, is that our amateur sleuths share a surreptitious mutual lust.

Director Joaqun Oristrell keeps things bouncy throughout, from the sepia-tinted metacinematic trickery (the film-sprocket wipes are a hoot) to the cast’s barely reined-in histrionics. What makes Unconscious a true joy, though, is the dexterity with which its sly historical insight and subtle humanism combine to both celebrate and chide modernism. (Opens Fri; Cinema Village.) — Mark Holcomb

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