Mist & the Maiden (Spanish Film Festival)
Quim Gutiérrez, Verónica Echegui, Aura Garrido
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…fans of moody crime stories looking for their next suspenseful hit will get enough…
The murdered body of a young man is found in the thick fog of La Gomera, the second-smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands. Despite an investigation, and charges laid against a local politician, no one is convicted and the crime remains unsolved. Three years later Civil Guards Bevilacqua (Quim Gutiérrez) and Chamorro (Aura Garrido) are dispatched from the mainland to re-open the case – accompanied by local Corporal Anglada (Verónica Echegui) – the last person to see the victim alive.
Adapted from the third of author Lorenzo Silva’s novels to feature investigators Bevilacqua and Chamorro, Mist & the Maiden is a competently staged and shot crime thriller, capitalising on the ‘Nordic noir’ sub-genre and infusing it with a Spanish flavour. Is it worth going out of your way to see it? Possibly not, but for fans of moody crime stories looking for their next suspenseful hit will get enough out of Andrés M. Koppel’s film to scratch that itch.
Certainly, the performances cannot be faulted. Gutiérrez and Garrido play the two lead investigators in such a way as to immediately sell them as long-term colleagues. There is a comfortable familiarity between them, one disrupted by Echegui’s bright, energetic performance as Anglada. Also, of note is Roberto Álamo as the dour Lieutenant Nava, who visibly bristles at his old failed case being re-opened by mainland officers.
The film is very nicely shot, taking strong advantage of the Canary Islands landscapes, and the thick, ominous mists that cover the forests at night. The film certainly does not lack for atmosphere. Where it does struggle is in presenting a clear and satisfying mystery. The best mystery stories are the ones where, once the murderer is revealed and the story explained, the entire film leading up to the climax suddenly flips and makes a whole new kind of sense. The Mist and the Maiden does not successfully do that: the conclusion may logically work, but it lacks that emotional satisfaction that comes from failing to see the evidence as it is presented in advance. The bulk of the film is filled with wrong leads and red herrings, and while much it is intriguing while it is being watched, it all collapses in retrospect. The film feels slightly flat in the end.
That leaves the atmosphere and the cast, both of which do go a long way to make the film at least reasonably entertaining. There is certainly a lot of potential in the two leads, and given they feature in several other novels available for adaptation it isn’t out of the question that Gutiérrez and Garrido could return and give their characters another shot. There’s huge potential here, but for this first time around Koppel simply hasn’t managed to nail it down.