The new Spanish thriller “The Invisible Guardian” (El Guardián invisible, 2017), a work of a dear director Fernando González Molina, will be a very pleasant experience for the fans of this genre. At the same time, those who enjoy reading noir fiction will also be thrilled, since the first book of the “The Baztan Trilogy”, (Trilogía del Baztán) by a popular writer Dolores Redondo, served as an inspiration for the latest Molina’s movie.
We were curious about the adaptation of this bestseller by the famous director of the teenage dramas such as “Three meters above the sky” (Tres metros sobre el cielo, 2010), “I want you” (Tengo ganas de ti, 2012). Especially after the success of his latest achievement, the enchanting romantic story “Palm Trees in the Snow” (Palmeras en la nieve, 2015), this year’s title presents something new in his work.
“The Invisible Guardian” is an interesting movie, with very rich psychological background, in which we follow the inspector Amaya Salazar while investigating a specific case of a serial killer. During her investigation, she’s is persecuted by long suppressed, dark memories. Marta Etura manages to bring us inner fight and trauma of the main heroine.
The intriguing and spooky family story, the combination of modernity with folk beliefs, the mythology of Navarra with divinations, and the interpretation of dreams that are related to current events, makes this narrative undoubtedly gives us goosebumps. Rain, fog, mud, darkness – as an environment in which story is located, corresponds with the theme, and also with Amaya’s feelings. Molina fulfilled our expectations and the scriptwriter, Luis Berdeho, also did his homework. He transferred on the big screen almost all the values that the novel possesses, with comprehensible adjustments. Even if it does not completely mirror the book, the film surely emphasizes the essential atmosphere, the portrayal of characters and the influence of horror in the scenes of Amaya’s traumatic memories.
When we consider a quite good acting cast – Elvira Mingez, Francesc Orella, Nene – we get everything that one film noars needs to offer. We see the dominant female protagonist who, through the resolution of the case, learns about herself and fights with her own ghosts. Looking for justice at all levels, in order to achieve a higher goal, she has to face her greatest fears. This is a very painful road which Amaya has to pass to reveal crimes and, at the same time, to overcome everything that has been blocking her to achieve personal happiness.
The essential backbone of the novel is the idea that a modern man needs to expand his views of the world and relativize what science taught him, sometimes relying on the power of the primordial elements. The idea that he should not lightly and arrogantly dismiss the experiences of his ancestors. The film, however, very discreetly points out these notions of the narrator.
Who is the invisible guardian? This still remains a mystery, although we are told the presence of the forest spirit of basahaun. His character is considered somewhere between the potential killer of young girls on the river Baztan and the savior of people in distress. As a hand that directs when ratio and all common attempts to overcome difficulties fail. Certainly, the figure of the guardian at some level is represented by Amaya Salazar herself.
The end leaves many open questions and announces the second part of the story “Legacy in the Bones” (Legado en los Huesos), which will answer numerous unresolved mysteries.
Despite the intention of author Redondo to make the story more powerful and real by adding magical elements in the novels about research and personal life of inspector Salazar, yet we can’t help but feel that the story itself is rather “bookish”. We’re experiencing it as a fiction, as well as the way in which the story is constructed, making it difficult for us to see it as something realistic.
“The Invisible Guardian” is a movie that will intrigue you from the moment when Amaya’s memories start to intertwine with the main course of action. These retrospective parts represent, perhaps, the biggest quality of this achievement. It’s similar when it comes to the novel – we come across solid descriptions of the nature of the bay of Baztan and the depiction of Amaya’s psychic state. However, we are can barely wait for those moments of returning to the past and the source of the all-embracing fear that marks the young inspector.
This is a story where we feel the rigid framework of the genre, but it is crafted well enough to produce the good result – we saw the first part and we want to see more!
* The photo is taken from http://www.imdb.com