El hombre de las mil caras (Alberto Rodríguez, 2016)

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El hombre de las mil caras, directed by Alberto Rodríguez (a.k.a. The man with thousand faces, 2016).

Score: interesting.

Based on the investigative journalism essay by Manuel Cerdán Paesa: el espía de las mil caras, El hombre de las mil caras tells the true story of Luis Roldán (Carlos Santos), former chief of the Spanish Civil Guard, who stole about ten million euro from the Guard’s Treasury and disappeared for a year in 1994. According to Cerdán and reflected in the movie, Roldán was hidden during that time by diplomat and secret agent Francisco Paesa (Eduard Fernández). To make it more intelligible, the whole plot is framed with narration from Paesa’s friend, airline pilot Jesús Camoes (José Coronado).

This all happened when I was a kid. I don’t remember much from it, except for the fact that everyone hated Luis Roldán. For this reason, the whole ordeal was really interesting to watch. Some details have been changed for dramatic reasons, but as far as I’ve been able to gather, the whole thing is pretty much factual. Even for someone like me who doesn’t speak bank, it’s fairly easy to follow and interest is retained all through the movie.

It has this mesmerizing charm that secrets out in the open have: the notion of a Spanish spy seems almost laughable, given the image we have of ourselves as a country. Only cooler countries have spies, maybe only John Le Carré novels do. But it’s clear that something fishy was going on in this huge corruption case that ended up with the downfall of PSOE in Spain; and finding out what it might have been is really exciting.

There is an almost voyeuristic quality to the character of Luis Roldán: we get to see the boogeyman, public enemy number one, being intimate with his wife and newborn son; in his darkest hour after many months of isolation, sobbing and shivering because he couldn’t finally find the courage to jump off a window.

To wrap it up, worth a watch.

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