|Page 1 of 11:||          |
|Index||110 reviews in total|
Tesis is a film about a film student writing an assignment on violence
on film, which is appropriate because Tesis is itself, an assignment
written by Alejandro Amenábar on violence and the state of the Spanish
film industry. Amenábar has packed the film with nods towards the
industry, and the reasons why it isn't working and this ties in
excellently with the central theme of violence. The director professes
that Spain's film industry will not be a success until it gives the
people what it wants - and that theory in it's purest form is snuff
films. Snuff films don't have any production values and exist purely to
please their audience on an aesthetic level - and the snuff industry in
this film is in a boom period! The idea of violence and why we find it
is fascinating has made the base for many films, and it serves this one
excellently too. The scene at the start sums all up; we open in a train
station where someone has committed suicide. The station guards are
trying to ensure that nobody sees the horror, and yet there's scores of
people surrounding the tracks and Amenábar makes sure that even you -
the viewer - want to survey the horror for yourself.
I don't know how successful Tesis was in it's native Spain, but it's certainly one of the best films to come out of the country in recent memory, and a lot of the reason for that is that the director has heeded his own advice and given the audience what they want. Rather than try and be deep and complex like many other foreign films, Tesis is a straight thriller, not unlike what would come out of America's thriving industry, and the fact that Amenábar has knowingly accepted what his film is and hasn't tried to make it any more than that does it no end of favours. The film follows a relaxed pace, and the basic structure follows a mystery, which is being unravelled by two students; Angela, the one doing the thesis and Chema; someone she met because of his infamous love for violent films. The way that Amenábar keeps the film flowing steadily ensures that we are really able to get into the mystery, and this makes the film far more thrilling overall. The film is about snuff films, but it shouldn't be mistaken for one itself. The focus is often kept away from violence, and the director only shows us just enough of the snuff to whet our appetites.
The film's main point is to show us the mystery, but the characters are never made to take a backseat. The two central figures are given time to grow as people so that we can really get to know them, and even feel for them. In many thrillers, the characters and the mystery can't be weighed up evenly; but despite the fact that he's only a young filmmaker, Amenábar has shown his brilliance by doing it to perfection. The characters actually compliment the mystery, in fact, because at times it flows because of who the characters are. This really allows the film to become compelling, and this is also where most of the true greatness lies. The characters are brought to life by a great cast of young actors. The beautiful Ana Torrent takes the lead role, and is joined by débutant Fele Martínez, who plays her opposite number. These two have an awkward chemistry, and this is capitalised on brilliantly. The third lead is played by Eduardo Noriega, who would go on to make a splash in Amenábar's Open Your Eyes a year later.
Tesis doesn't get mentioned all that often in discussions about great horror/thrillers - and I really have no idea why. This is a first rate film, and really shows its cast and director's talent. The Spanish film industry may be on the decline - but it wont be if they can pump out a few more films like this one!
First effort by now affirmed Spanish director Amenebar, Tesis starts brilliantly (with a magnificent mix of music and images) and it develops perhaps too slowly and with a unsatisfying ending - at least for a mystery lover - butt it is for a rest a perfect machine explaining how a movie works, how it captures the attention of the viewers. Its aim and final analisys of the movie event and how violence is the basis of today's society could be debatable, but Amenebar has a gift to take good script and turn them in masterpieces.
Tesis is one of the finest Spanish films of the last 10 years. God help us if Tom Cruise remakes this first Amenabar gem as he has Abre los ojos> Vanilla Sky coming soon, blech! Using the iconic gaze of Ana Torrent--see her at 6 in Spirit of the Beehive or at 10 in Cria!-- Amenabar makes an obvious but still gripping statement about modern society's facination with violence in the media. Using phenomenal tracking shots, cross-referenced pov and suspenseful tension to maximum effect, he and his cast convert what could have been a hack DePalma style Hitchcock ripoff into art. An awareness of contemporary Spain certainly helps, as much that we Americans consider passe was fairly new over there at the time (not in 2001, alas.) Fele Martinez at his best, too.
"Tesis" is not only a tantalizing Horror Thriller, but is also an
intelligent study of people's fascination with death and the imagery of
death. Several movies about the topic of snuff films have come up in
the last several years (8 MM, for example), this one is definitely the
Angela is a young woman who is writing a thesis on violence in the media, in order to get her degree in communication science. Doing research, she gets to know Chema, a fellow student who is obsessed with violent movies. Angela finds a snuff video of a girl tortured to death, Chema recognizes the girl as a former student from their school, who disappeared several years ago. Angela and Chema get themselves into great danger, trying to find out who killed the girl.
Thrilling from the first to the last minute, and sometimes quite shocking and disturbing, "Tesis" is a movie that will definitely not disappoint you if you're looking for suspense. But not only is the movie thrilling and entertaining it also makes some very interesting points in the questions why people are fascinated with death and violence, what the effects of fascination with violence are and how media are dealing with it. I'll never forget the beginning of the movie, when a suicide occurs in the Madrid subway and Angela, although she doesn't want to be 'fascinated with violence', can't help but try to get a look at the dead body.
The acting in the movie is very good, specially Ana Torrent as Angela and Fele Martínez as Chema. A good cinematography supports the suspense and the thrilling atmosphere. Alejandro Amenábar did a great job writing and directing this movie, one of the most thrilling of the 90's. A great horror thriller, researching people's fascination with violence and death, 'Tesis' is disturbing, terrifying and intelligent! 8 out of 10!
A brilliant, gritty thriller more in the style of an American film noir than anything else. This film, more a statement on the appeal of violence in the media than anything else, deserves credit for the way it handles the characterisation of Angela, Chema and Bosco. Without giving away too much of the plot, this is a film that is not a mystery, but an indictment of our own human fascination with snuff films and death. The message communicated by the last scene should be as subtle as a full moon, but feels natural.
A promising director: it's what I thought after the screening of Amenabar's
first feature. There is a compelling story told with bright creative
Eventually I felt the first part of the movie was really great and the following went a little under. Sure, it is more difficult to bring all sorts of things together after you built up an exciting suspense. Still you don't feel bored once you are getting to know what it is really all about, but you got more free 'RAM space' to think it over. Perhaps accelerating the rhythm would have kept Tesis on the same high level of suspense. Perhaps it would have been a mistake to change the pace.
Among things you can take away with you is the background theme about our attraction for the morbid. It opens and closes the movie and really gives it one further dimension - one could say it's a bit didactical but it's a least flaw for a first major effort.
Next step Senor Amenabar: a little less personal work (as compared with the experimental Abre los ojos) but still something personal (The Others is the least interesting work so far).
I've seen all of Alejandro Amenábar's features, except for Mar Adentro. This is less "Hollywood" than The Others, but I do find Abre Los Ojos to be a better film than this one(have more flu-induced nightmares, Alejandro! Just kidding), more themes, perhaps. That is by no means to disregard this film... never. It is a well-done psychological horror-thriller of well-established moods and atmosphere, and the themes explored, the questions raised... the film is sure to spark debate. A feature directing debut, this fact is at times evident... it has a slow pace at times, and seemed to move at a rather bland pace throughout the film. It often jumps from a potentially exciting scene to a dull one, as well. I won't claim that the plot is ingenious... it's, in fact, almost more of a vehicle for the themes. It drives the film just fine, but if what you want is a well-crafted mystery or crime story, look elsewhere. The direction has clever moments, and is just about flawless, throughout. The film manages to be somewhat unpredictable, by having many scenes take unexpected turns, but the mystery was a little predictable, and too easy to figure out; who the villains were came as no real surprise. What I liked about it, what I really liked, was the way it questioned the idea of snuff films, and the way it further explored the reason snuff films exist... they didn't come out of nowhere or nothing, and this acknowledges that fact. It doesn't say that violence is wrong, nor does it claim that only mentally unstable people enjoy watching it... in fact, it takes a neutral stance on the subject, and lets the viewers decide for themselves... but not before showing us that even the most non-violent and emotionally stable person can - if only slightly - be driven towards watching and maybe even slightly enjoying violence, and/or being fascinated by death. Amenábar reaches out and pulls out everyone's dark side in this movie; no one who watches it will come out entirely without questioning their own thoughts about violence. The acting is good, the characters are generally well-written, the film manages to build up a lot of suspense(even though it is somewhat easy to figure out who the "bad guys" are) and tension(masterfully so). Near the middle of the film there is a truly claustrophobic sequence, which anyone suffering, even mildly, from claustrophobia will have a hard time getting through. The film carefully dodges most(!) of the typical Hollywood clichés, and manages to keep the film interesting and exciting, despite being somewhat poorly paced. All in all, a thriller which should be worthwhile to, well, pretty much anyone. It doesn't require you to be a certain age to understand it(though I will recommend that you are at least old and/or hardened enough to take the themes, and what violence is featured). This isn't about showing violence(I challenge anyone to claim or prove the violence herein can be classified as exploitative, by almost any standard), all the violence shown is there for a reason. I recommend it to fans of horror-thrillers, in particular psychological ones, fans of Amenábar's other work, and people who just like a movie to mess with their minds a little, and have their values screwed up a little. 8/10
In Spain, Ángela Márquez (Ana Torrent) is a student of cinema preparing
thesis about the violence in the media. She approaches to the strange
student of an another class, Chema (Fele Martínez), who is fan and has a
collection of violent movies, to improve her research about this theme.
is receiving orientation of Prof. Figueroa (Miguel Picazo), who finds a
`snuff' movie in the library of the university, showing the death of
student, Vanessa, violently killed by a man. While watching this film,
Figueroa dies, and the new professor assigned to give orientation to
Jorge Castro (Xabier Elorriaga), questions many points in her thesis,
inclusive the achievement of information. Meanwhile, Ángela is introduced
Bosco Herranz (Eduardo Noriega), a handsome and nice student of the
university, and she suspects he made the violent movie and killed Vanessa.
The plot is only resolved in the end of the film. The first film directed
Alejandro Almenábar that I watched was `Abre Los Ojos'. This masterpiece
very unknown here in Brazil. `Abre Los Ojos' is only available on VHS,
it certainly is in my list of the best thirty favorite movies. The common
viewers only know the sophisticated and spoiled Hollywood version `Vanilla
Sky'. The pretentious, wealthy and ham actor Tom Cruise impaired one of
most original screenplays ever made. Then I watched the marvelous `The
Others'. Last month, his first movie, `Thesis', was released on DVD in
Brazil. Yesterday I saw this magnificent low budget thriller. A very
and realistic story, which keeps the viewer in tension until the last
There is no clichés, the performance of the cast is very credible, and it
impossible not to like this film. I did not know the meaning of `snuff'
films. Based on these three foregoing mentioned movies, I dare to say that
Alejandro Almenábar is the best new director of thrillers arose in the
My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): `Thesis - Morte Ao Vivo' (`Thesis - Death Live')
This film is an efficient thriller from Spain. It deals with the popular
urban legend of "snuff" films (films which depict a real-life murder
committed purely for the sake of the film).
The plot involves a young film student Angela (Ana Terrant) who is doing a thesis on cinematic violence. To research her thesis she seeks out the most extreme violence films she can find and accidentally stumbles upon a snuff film depicting the torture and murder of a fellow student from her university. She soon starts investigating the film.
The film is well-made and well-acted with several effective scares and twists. It's main message is that the people who watch violent films are in some way accomplices to the violent acts that they watch. This is an old point that has been made several times before. It also deals with the attraction of the forbidden. For example, in the opening scene, Angela goes to see a dead body on a railway track, partly because she has been told not to. Just when she, and the audience, are about to see the body she is stopped. In another scene, Angela is looking away from the snuff film but takes a quick look when she is told not to.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gleaning Thesis for profundity may carry the unhappy side consequence of making you look a little too closely at the content of what is essentially a sick little flick. And we wouldn't want that.
It's a chiller, plain and simple.
If you relate it more to the Euro tradition of Jess Franco and Dario Argento than that of Bergman or Bresson, you get the joke. The production is as sleek and seamless as any Hollywood film of the period. The bonus here is that there is a superbly accomplished atmosphere of immense dread throughout most of the film that mainstream films always seem to lack. There is a grime, a dark grubbiness that perfectly matches the minds of the films villains, real and apparent. Hitchcock would applaud the makers ability to stretch scary moments beyond real time and milk audience identification with his characters if nothing else.
The film goes astray, for me, in suggesting the heroine is close to being seduced at one point by the awful thrill of the violence she is investigating. (In a dream sequence, she kisses the hand of the man who has just cut her throat.) Ditto the scenes that show slack-jawed average citizens drawn to violence on TV. It rather too patly suggests that all you have to do is put unbearable violence out there, and all people (not just some) will be unable to resist its allure. These are cliches, a kind of pandering to those who are quick to bemoan how base human beings really are. They are NOT profound observations on human nature. Sorry.
Thesis keeps your interest. That is what a good thriller does. So it gets 6 stars from me. It loses a point or two for exploiting violence for our entertainment, then, at the close, self-righteously pointing a finger at us for being interested enough in the first place to sit through (and enjoy?) the very same. A fairly questionable enterprise, over all.
|Page 1 of 11:||          |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||Newsgroup reviews||External reviews|
|Parents Guide||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|