Re:View – ‘The Uninvited Guest’

The Arts

The adjective ‘Hitchcockian’ is bandied about frequently but rarely proves well-chosen. However, in Guillem Morales’ knockout debut thriller there’s no other word for it. The fact that he went on to make ‘Julia’s Eyes’ says a lot.

When it first appeared in 2004 the film was called ‘The Uncertain Guest’, a more accurate title, and was an early example of the astonishing genre renaissance that’s happening in Spanish film at the moment – except that you won’t find any reviews of it on IMBd. The film hardly received any distribution – but this glossy psychodrama really deserves it.

Architect Felix is breaking up with his girlfriend when a stranger calls to use the phone, then disappears. Over the next few days, Felix gradually becomes convinced that the stranger is living in his house. He takes to sleeping in his car, so afraid is he of going back inside the home he built.

An encounter with an irritable German neighbour and her dog leads to an unfortunate accident, but the police won’t let Felix stay overnight in their cells. When he makes a drawing of the stranger and the local children recognise him, the situation takes a left turn and becomes blackly comic as Felix meets his neighbour. An early scene of Felix watching a programme about territorial nesting proves very suggestive, and leads to a shocking climax.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a quote from the excellent website ‘Eye For Film’; ‘(The director) shows a keen understanding of Hitchcock’s characteristic themes, like doubling, voyeurism and the transference of guilt, and of how to deploy even a seemingly minor detail – in this case a brief excerpt from a nature documentary that the protagonist, Felix, catches on television one night – to ultimately telling effect…the kind of debut feature that encourages you to believe that cinema does have a future.’

The good news is – it’s on DVD in a very nice transfer, with subtitles.

4 comments on “Re:View – ‘The Uninvited Guest’”

  1. snowy says:

    It’s a bit quiet in this bit.

    [Decides to make the most of it and stomps about in really loud boots, just because I can.]

    A little research reveals that GM was involved with G del T in the making of Julias Eyes.

    So that’s now two blooming films I have to keep an eye out for.

    Perhaps then I will finally discover the mystery of G del T’s repeated return to the motif of clockwork in every film.

  2. admin says:

    He’s a very tidy guy. I think he likes order. Of course I knew him before he became a megastar director, and I now worry that Hollywood may have blanded him out. Let’s hope not.

  3. snowy says:

    [Red face]
    [Vainly tries to conceal boots]
    [Whistles innocently]

    He is certainly a meticulous director, even fluff like HB2 bears repeated viewing. Once you know the general arc of the film, you can the spot how beautifully handled the relationship between HB and Liz is. And the sets, and the framing, and, and well you know what I mean.

    He has been very busy in recent years, but his next directorial project looks a bit worrying, ‘Pacific Rim’ (I guess they won’t have to change the title when the inevitable p0rn0 version gets made), looks a bit brainless sub-Transformers robot smashy, smash, smash.

    (Ah that has just reminded me there is a epic Kermodian rant about that, I most pop off and find it.)


  4. Helen Martin says:

    @Snowy, Kermodian? Are you referring to our spirit bears? I didn’t know that they ranted.

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