March, 2007, Comedy

Devotees of Sigmund Freud, take notice; this mischievous Spanish bedroom farce pokes gentle fun at the wizard of Vienna as it explores the professional and personal lives of Leon Pardo and his brother Salvador, psychiatrists  in Barcelona, circa 1913. With tongue blatantly in cheek, veteran writer/director Joaquin Oristrell takes his handsome cast through a mystery involving Leon’ disappearance, his relation with a domineering father, action at a stag film studio, a bit of S/M and revelers at a drag ball, not to mention Salvador’s infatuation with Leon’s very pregnant wife Alma. Freud’s views on the Oedipus complex are gently taken to task in this period romp that once again demonstrates the caliber of foreign language films which struggle to find an American audience.

Leon’s devotion to Freud’s theory of female sexual hysteria doesn’t impress his more professionally conservative brother Salvador. But when Alma discovers that her husband has mysteriously disappeared, she insists that his decidedly uptight brother assist in locating Leon and learning what  provoked an apparent crisis in their marriage. 

In searching Leon’s files for clues about his disappearance, Salvador comes across Leon’s case notes on four women and with Alma’s help, discovers that these patients’ lives are inter-connected in ways that both reinforce and refute Freudian principles. Secrets of paternity, sexual orientation and intra-familial lust are exposed, causing significant realignment in the Pardos’ matrimonial arrangements. 

Oristrell and his cast never invest this sophisticated fluff with anything less than a lighthearted tone and the director’s decision to employ period cinematography techniques that were in vogue in the days of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation provides movie buffs with yet another level on which to enjoy this slyly amusing sexual fandango.

Unconscious was made in 2004 and is already available on DVD. If you find the current level of cocktail party psycho-babble hard to take, take a dose of this bracing corrective at home; you’ll be glad you did.            

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