I'll Explain Why The Movie The Invisible Guest In The Room Is an Unheralded Savant - or we should probably watch way more international movies than we do.
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That is the single longest title I’ve ever written. But it’s exactly what it needed to say. I’m going to do some explaining. Talking. Bloviating. I plan to make my case. Pontificating. Conjecturing and arguing the point that the movie – The Invisible Guest in the Room… isn’t just good. That it isn’t just brilliant. Which it is. But better yet, that it is a savant. A learned academic about to take you to school. And not only that? You’ve never heard of the movie.
So, first things first… what is this movie, The Invisible Guest?
First. A mind game word story… There is a dead man in a barn. He has been hanged, by a noose. There are no nearby ladders for support, no beams near by and the rope is hung from the roof of the structure. Oh, and he’s a foot off the ground. One last thing? It was suicide. How did the poor chap kill himself? Stop. Think. Oh, never mind, it was a block of ice. The man stood on a block of ice and then stepped off in order to hang himself. The block melted. Voila. This is literally a story told in the middle of this movie. But it is a perfect metaphor for the movie itself. A rich man is locked, in a room, with a busted head – having been assaulted by an assailant, and the rich man’s dead lover is nearby on the floor. The intruder that killed her… has somehow managed to vanish. How did the intruder get out? If that concept doesn’t fascinate you, or pique your interest, quickly click the back button and move along. But if you are intrigued, then get ahold of a copy of The Invisible Guest (or Contratiempo) and then walk with me through the rest of this deep dive discussion.
And oh yeah… by the way, it’s not in English. Worse yet? They talk really really fast throughout this entire movie. So, if reading isn’t your thing? Nope. You aren’t going to dig it. But you know what? Stop being that stereotypical American that wants every movie in English. It’s unbecoming. So go find the movie. Watch the movie. Then come back, because the rest of this blog post is all about the details of what happened so we can understand it. Ok? Fair? Great.
Detailed Invisible Guest Walkthrough
I am quick when it comes to movies. And generally speaking, I have them figured out before they get started. Trailers and I’m done. But this one? Nope. I was literally 80 minutes into this one when I wrote in my notes… and I quote, “Grrr! What is going on here?!? This movie is totally and completely beyond me.” Seriously. I stopped. Took out my pen, and wrote that down. But what I didn’t understand was that this movie was a shell game, and that I hadn’t started the game behind by 27 shells and I hadn’t even realized the game had even begun.
But if you think of this movie as an onion, we start on the outer layer with the simplest of explanations as to what happened that night in the hotel. Then we peel off a layer and go again. By the end of the movie we have 5 or 6 different onion layers laying on the ground. But all of that is just warm up for the final layer to hit the ground right before the credits kick off. So, you would do better to just consume the general high marks of each of the layers. Thankfully, Oriol Paulo was extraordinarily kind to us and made the onion layers additive and not redactive or convoluted. It’s almost like Oriol was like A happened. No… A + B happened. Actually… it was more of an A + B + C sort of a thing. Maybe. When he could have been like, A happened. Actually Q happened. OR, Zebra minus Orangutang is what really happened. So the movie took on more of an additive accreted sort of layering instead of an even more complex variant of how he could have played it.
So what are the barebones of the story? Adrián Doria is a wealthy businessman who starts the movie off by meeting with Virginia Goodman. Goodman is a soon to retire veteran lawyer who is an expert in preparing witnesses in lead of high profile court cases. Goodman is determined not to lose on her final case and so she begins walking through Adrián’s story of what happened the night he was found in a hotel room with his dead lover at his side.
But that was just version 1 and Goodman isn’t buying a word of it. “There is no salvation without suffering. And you are not smarter than me.”
Throwing a newspaper on the table Virginia tells him he’s full of crap, what about Daniel Garrido? Ok, well apparently, Adrián and his lover Laura were heading out to the airport after a rendezvous and they have an accident and crash into an oncoming car. Only glitch, the kid in the other car is dead. But then that places them not where their spouses think they are, so they can’t be there. So Laura convinces Adrián that they ought to put the body in the trunk and then Adrián should ditch the car. But another guy drives by! Oh no!
Cut to, Adrián trying to find a place to ditch Daniel’s car. Eventually he finds a place. But thinks maybe someone might have seen him? Meanwhile, Laura (Raquel) is picked up by a super nice old guy who offers to lend a hand with the BMW’s starter. Only, she doesn’t realize that this is Daniel Garrido’s dad, Thomás. Mid-visit, they realize Daniel is missing, and so they call him. But Daniel’s phone is Laura’s pocket, and so she ditches it in the couch, causing no end of chaos. Finally, Adrián and Laura reunite and they tell there horrible stories to each other about the rest of their day.
Adrián is regretting their relationship – and tells her he can’t do it anymore. But Laura sees that the cops are starting to get closer to them, so she uses Daniel’s wallet and uses his information to steal 50k Euros from the bank he worked at in order to make it look like he is running away. Stealing cash and on the lamb. Soon after, Mr. Garrido comes to Adrián’s awards ceremony to tell him that they know his lover “Raquel” had crossed paths with Daniel because he had been using the phone and then it returned home miraculously.
But then Adrien posits that it is the first passerby at the scene that was the one blackmailing the duo and that he is the killer. Virginia then shuts all that down and let’s Adrián know that it was probably Daniel’s father, Mr. Garrido who killed Laura. Which, in retrospect, is just all kinds of brilliant if you think about it. But we haven’t gotten there yet. Bear. With. ME! So they play out a possibility wherein Mr. and Mrs. Garrido working at the hotel set a trap in order to catch and kill Laura and setup Adrián for the murder. By using keys to the windows, and intentionally slipping into and out of the room at strategic moments it looks like there was no one there but Adrián, but in fact they were there.
And then with a crack of lightening, Virginia says, actually, what if you Adrián, are the one that is afraid that Laura is wanting to leave you. And that you were the one that hacked Daniel’s account with the help of your lawyer? And that is when Adrián volunteers that Daniel wasn’t actually dead when he shoved the car into the lake. And now the crime isn’t accidental homicide, but now it’s murder. And it’s Laura that contacts Adrián and his wife in an attempt to force Adrián to tell them the truth of what happened. To which, Adrián freaks out about the trap that Laura has caught him in when he arrives at the hotel. Which causes Adrián to kill Laura in a heat of passion. But then that means that Adrián is trapped, and the only way he’s going to get out is if he hires the best defense lawyer, and hire the best witness preparation counsel in order to get himself off the hook. Which, they’ll do in spectacular fashion.
If given the opportunity.
But soon we realize that that opportunity is never going to come. Because why?
The Ending of the Invisible Guest
Let’s step back a layer though. The theory that it was Mr. and Mrs. Garrido that are working at the hotel, and have lured in Adrián in order to kill Laura and set him up?… all rubbish. Laura may very well have been the one to trap Adrián in order to convince him to tell the truth. But the Garridos just wanted to know where their son was. To give the boy a burial.
Which brings us to the final twist of the movie. Virginia has been spending the last three hours grilling Adrián in order to get him to tell her the truth so that she can prep him adequately for the stand and to also give their case as much ammunition as possible in front of the judge. The prosecution has a secret witness after all.
So Virginia Goodman grills and grills and pumps Adrián for information. And information she gets. She gets the location of where he dumped the car in the lake. She found out that the boy was alive when Adrián put the car in the lake, thereby drowning him. She found out plenty of hidden details that Adrián hadn’t been forth coming about. They conclude their session and she leaves. Only to have the real Virginia arrive moments later. But, what? If that wasn’t Virginia, then who was it?
Only Mrs. Garrido. Daniel’s mother. That’s all.
Final Thoughts on The Invisible Guest in the Room
This movie beat me about the head and shoulders so badly I literally gave up trying to figure it out. It was a revisionist’s dream. I think we were sold something 82 different versions of what happened that night. Ok, maybe I exaggerate. 79. They were selling so many different permutations upon permutations it was difficult to keep track. But ultimately, Mrs. Doria gets a confession out of Adrián that shows that he wasn’t the innocent victim he’d said he was all night long. Not only was he not the one to want to break the relationship off, he was forcefully keeping Laura in the relationship. Not only was he the instigator of the chaos, he ended up murdering Daniel ultimately. And it was Adrián that made Daniel look like a thief, and worse, he framed the Garrido’s for the murder of Laura, and his own “framing”.
What did the title mean though? At first I thought it was all about Mr. Garrido being in the hotel room that night, and killing Laura. But when it was all said and done I finally realized… no. That’s not what it meant at all. It was all about Mrs. Garrido being in the room with Adrián the whole movie long. Which made a lot more sense at the end of the day… it was there staring me in the face all along!
It is rare that I give up mid-movie. (True, I gave up 10 minutes in on Dark yesterday, but we can talk more thoroughly about that another day.) But if you are anything like me, once the ending came through it all made perfect sense. No? Or maybe that’s why you are here? hahah. Regardless, once the final move of “Virginia’s” was made, and Mrs. Garrido checkmated Adrián it all made sense.
What did you think of it?
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