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By Jeremy Mathews | January 22, 2005

Comedic Spanish writer/director Joaquin Oristrell’s “Unconscious” is a clever film with enough good elements that it feels like it should be a bit better than it is. The film is a harmless, somewhat clever sex comedy mystery set in 1913, when the turn of the century had excited people with the notion of change and, as the introduction puts it, Freud created a new form of psychoanalysis in which everything has to do with sex.

One of the doctors most eager to follow Freud is Alma’s husband Leon, who has mysteriously disappeared a week before Freud’s appearance in front of the local psychoanalytic association. Alma is also nine-months pregnant and could go into labor at any moment, but that doesn’t stop her from going on a full-scale investigation to track down her baby’s father.

Alma (a charming Leonor Watling) enlists her brother-in-law Salvador (Luis Tosar), who’s also Leon’s best friend, to help track him down. Salvador doesn’t keep up with all the modern thinkers, thinks Freud is full of s**t, and finds no appreciation from his wife, Olivia (Núria Prims), who doesn’t want to have sex with him because his penis is too big (not that!). The resulting plot is a series of stories about different women whose psychological conditions may hint to what happened to Leon. Meanwhile sexual tension builds between Salvador and Alma, who is as beautiful as ever at nine-months pregnant.

The film looks great both in terms of recreating an era and Oristrelll’s show-offy shots, and the screenplay has lots of clever Freudian gags and references to modern art and literature, but the mystery is never quite as engaging as intended. A bizarre party and a series of twists are well conceived, but it never quite adds up to as much as it tries to. The character of Olivia, for example, becomes a bit of a mess as the twists are added, because by the end her previous behavior doesn’t quite match the emotional state that her character would have been while she was having it. With a little more sex and a little more comedy, this one could have really been something.

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