Monday, April 27, 2015

The Stranger (orig. La Extraña) [2014]

MPAA (UR would be PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing listing* (C. Liriano) review* (F.M. Lora) review* (H. Pagan Soto) review* (R. Peralta Rigaud) review* (J. Elías) review*

The Stranger (orig. La Extraña) [2014][IMDb] [CD]* (directed by César Rodríguez [IMDb], screenplay adaptation written by Alejandro Andújar [IMDb] based on an earlier French film Sin with a Stranger (orig. L'étrangère) [1968] IMDb] by Sergio Gobbi [IMDb] ) is a steamy though still PG-13 rate-able psychological thriller from the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC that played recently at the 2015 -- 31st Chicago Latino Film Festival.  

The story centers on Alberto Caba (played by Frank Perezo [IMDb]), a rich man, with a rich if infirm (due to a car accident) wife named Gaia (played by Luara García [IMDb]).  He's the owner of a still relatively successful Santo Domingo publishing house, but he's "restless."

Why?  Why restless, if he had so much going for him?  Well though he's owner of a still relatively successful Santo Domingo publishing house, he always wanted to be a writer himself and yet he hasn't able to produce anything of sufficient quality to publish.  So he's felt himself to be condemned to reading, editing and publishing the works of better / more inspired writers than he.

And this has taken a toll.  Yes, he has a wife, but she's now in a wheelchair.  Even before the accident, they apparently "never had time for kids" and ... yes, his eyes have been looking elsewhere.  He does seem to have found a lover on the side, named Laura (played by Yorlla Lina Castillo).  But he seems to have become ambivalent with regards to her as well.  (She seems to call quite a bit to his cell-phone, but he's not picking-up her calls ...).

Well, after a meeting with a younger, better, writer than he in his office one morning, a writer who asked him some fairly direct questions about why he should even bother "in this day-and-age..." to go through a publisher like him anyway ... Alberto's had enough.

So he calls his wife, still recuperating in a quite upscale rehab that he's going to their house in some posh GATED resort colony outside of town "to think" and (perhaps) "to write."  Sitting in her wheelchair staring at the nicely watered, indeed manicured lawn (again, inside the walls...) of the rehab center where she's staying, she responds coolly perhaps even angrily (she apparently knows of his "life" outside their marriage ...).  But resigned, she wishes him "a good (though DEFFINITY NOT SUPER 'good') time" "away."  Sigh (or ARGH!) what can she do?

As he arrives to the rather large, comfortable but definitely IMPOSING "members only" beyond this point, "Welcome-Waiting Center" AT THE ENTRANCE to this GATED "resort colony" -- everybody knows him, no one has a problem with his being there, some ask about his wife, one, apparently a retired General, asks about his lover ... ;-) ... yes, that's the kind of place this is ... -- Alberto spots an attractive 20-something woman (played by Evylina Rodríguez [IMDb]) with not exactly a whole lot of luggage... having some difficulty getting past the clerk at the security desk.  Apparently, "the family" that the clerk's calling that she's supposedly coming to see inside the resort colony isn't at home / isn't answering the phone.  And the clerk's telling her that without hearing confirmation from them, he can't let her pass...

Alberto, not wanting to see the attractive / well-dressed -- he/everybody else looking-on is guessing hooker -- young woman unduly embarrassed, tells the clerk that he'll vouch for her, and then even drops her off at the home of "the couple" that she's saying that she's there to visit.

That night, quietly marinating himself at the resort's beach-side "club" on piña coladas, he runs into her again.  She comes in bright slinky orange, not much to the straps, "party dress," long, flowing brown hair, deep brown eyes, deeply tanned/bronzed skin, stilettos (of course), and a cheerful/welcoming smile.  "So did you meet up with, your ... er ... party?"  "Yes, they're my parents, they're old and their now asleep."  "Yeah (he doesn't really believe her) ... you want something to drink."  "Sure ..." He waves over the waiter, she orders and takes a seat with him ...

They begin talking.  Breaking the ice, she beings, "So you seem to (think that you) know something about me... What about you?  What's your story? What do you do?"  And so he tells her some of his story, that he's a publisher in Santo Domingo though he'd really want to be a writer, and that he even has a sick wife back home.  "So what are you doing here?"  He tells her that he's trying to get a short break from it all, and perhaps get some actual writing done.  "Well, perhaps I can be your muse ... I'm Rosa..."

Well, greased by the alcohol, "one thing leads to another."  He invites her to the place that he/his wife have in this (highly secure) resort / playground for Santo Domingo's rich (the wife of course "out of the way" back in the rehab center in S.D.).  And, of course, after a dip in the pool (she still in that orange party dress), Alberto and Rosa end up in bed ...

He we wakes up the next morning with a terrible hangover.  Of course, Rosa's gone.  He checks his wallet.  His cash is gone.  Well, at least he's more or less sure now that he had her occupation right ...

Still, now he really wonders who she is?   He goes over to the house by which he dropped her off the previous day.  All he runs into is the gardener, who he tells him that there only for the resort and that no one's been living that home in at least six months.

So then who the heck was this woman?  And what's _her_ story?  The rest of the movie follows ... ;-)

I would add here that this is a _normal_ psychological, if somewhat erotic, thriller (though actually always kept on a PG-13 level with _far more implied than shown_).  So she's NOT a ghost, zombie or vampire.

But she does have a story.  And good ole Alberto has a rather complicated life -- with an infirm wife, a lover he's trying to let go of, and now this new (what did she call herself?) ... "muse" ... who's now entered into his life as well.

Anyway, it makes for a reasonably well-spun simultaneously "adult" / "okay for tv" cautionary tale: "Be careful what you ask for ..."

 * Decent enough (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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