Still waters run deep — and red — in “Cannibal.”
This drama from Spain handles its subject matter in a tasteful manner. And yes, I just said that.
But it happens to be true.
“Cannibal’s” title character, Carlos (Antonio de la Torre), is a fastidious individual. A handsome, well-tailored tailor — elegant pinstripe suit, neatly folded handkerchief in breast pocket — he owns a one-man shop in a quaint section of Granada.
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He’s deliberate in his movements, whether applying scissors to fabric on the cutting table at his shop or applying cleaver to flesh on a quite different cutting table in his remote cabin in the mountains.
He’s a man of few words, self-effacing, self-contained. But below his seemingly placid surface, roiling unseen, is monstrous perversity.
He’s an enigma, and director/co-writer Manuel Martín Cuenca keeps him mysterious throughout. The filmmaker offers no explanations for what turned Carlos to the dark side, but instead drops hints. His victims are women, with whom he is apparently unable to connect in any conventional way.
He’s a voyeur, and the movie is replete with scenes of him gazing through windows at the street outside, or upward at the apartment window of an attractive blond neighbor who lives above his shop. She eventually catches him in the act of observation. Named Alexandra (Olimpia Melinte), she comes down and tries to befriend him. When she disappears, her twin sister (also Melinte) turns up, asking Carlos for help in finding the missing woman.
Unhurried in its pacing, exquisitely photographed and very sparing in its presentation of bloodshed and violence, “Cannibal” observes but does not comment. Made complicit in Carlos’ voyeurism, the audience observes as his carefully cultivated reserve is besieged by unwelcome yet warm-spirited human contact.
The suspense, and it, too, is carefully cultivated by Cuenca, comes from wondering whether he will be redeemed in some fashion or whether he will kill — and dine — again.
Soren Andersen: firstname.lastname@example.org