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Tesis
cast: Ana Torrent, Fele Mártinez, and Eduardo Noriega

director: Alejandro Amenábar

119 minutes (18) 1996
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Tartan DVD Region '0' retail
Also available to buy on video

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
Ángela (Ana Torrent) is writing a doctoral thesis on violence in the media. One day her tutor dies of a heart attack. Ángela takes the videotape he had been watching and watches it at her home... to find a snuff movie featuring a student who had disappeared two years before. Ángela realises that her own life is in danger...
   Especially considering that it's a debut feature made at the tender age of 24, Tesis impresses by its assurance. Amenábar's next feature was Open Your Eyes, which led him to make the English-language The Others. Three features before the age of 30 is an impressive feat by any standard, but Amenábar's talent was obvious from the outset. That he would be taken up by Hollywood is no surprise, as compared to fellow Spanish directors his sensibility and visual language is very much American. The only effective difference between this and an American film is the language of its dialogue. That the classicism of The Others seemed so fresh is an indictment of the state of mainstream American cinema.
   Ana Torrent, 30 when she made this, was herself once a prodigy, giving one of the great child performances at the age of six in The Spirit Of The Beehive. Her committed performance does a lot to hold Tesis together, particularly when the plot threatens to unravel in the later stages (and becomes a little too conventional). Fele Mártinez and Eduardo Noriega (both to feature in Open Your Eyes) offer solid performances. The depiction of the snuff movie footage is restrained, but it's still not for the squeamish. This is a key point of Tesis, established in the opening scene where a train is delayed due to a body on the line: however terrible and disturbing the sight, part of us can't resist taking a look.
   DVD extras: theatrical trailer, making-of documentary, stills gallery, film notes by Roger Clarke, and filmographies.
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