This is the latest in a slew of Euro movies to make it to our shores here, promoted as a mystery thriller because of the faux-pas sense of sophistication from everything European.
To its credit, it does keep you guessing. As the premise goes, a serene family of four moves into the suburbs, only for Julia (Ariadna Gil) the mom experiencing things that go bump, even in the day. Loving husband Samuel (Jordi Molla) and kids Felix (Nacho Perez) and Luis (Omar Munoz) do not experience these strange phenomenon, and therefore this leads to tension within the family.
What works is the atmosphere built up, that there are many scenes filled with plenty of emptiness Julia experiences in the neighbourhood, and the bewilderment she felt when she slowly discovers that there is no one else to turn to, not even her husband and children. Feeling extremely isolated, she begins to wonder what happened to have brought about the changes to her surroundings, as well as her family.
On one hand, you want to sympathize with Julia and her increasing exasperation, and Ariadna Gil's performance enables you to do so. However, it's really a case of more than meets the eye, and you might be increasing as frustrated as the character when you attempt to figure out what is happening as well - is it a psycho babble mystery, or something involving the supernatural, or a conspiracy of sorts? You can warrant a guess, and you'll probably be right, but the way the film progresses and develops, doubts will be cast on your assumptions, right until the very last scenes.
If compared to earlier fare like Lemming (happy family in suburbs) and Cache/Hidden (something remotely similar with its CCTV cameras and discovery that you can watch them on TV), The Absent probably is the weakest in terms of storyline, and the least entertaining of the lot. If you're thinking you're up for something quite cerebral, you might end up disappointed.
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