The Body In The Woods (Un Cos Al Bosc)
You’ve probably been wondering what would have happened if Ian Fleming had picked up Raymond Chandler on the way to Patricia Highsmith’s house for a lost weekend fuelled by scotch, benzedrine and Catalan independence leaflets. Well, maybe they would have woken up on the Monday morning with big headaches and something a lot like the screenplay for Joaquim Jordà’s THE BODY IN THE WOODS (UN COS AL BOSC), which hits the wild boar hunt/twisty thriller/hardboiled ‘tec/S’n'M lesbian biker crossover nail right on the head. You might be thinking that you fall into only one, two at the most, of those demographics, but to miss BODY on that basis would be a mistake.
… each meticulously timed beat of the film moves us a surprising step further along the murky story of the body in the woods …
Rossy de Palma (WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, PRÊT-À-PORTER) storms around a sleepy rural district as the spectacularly hard-boiled Teniente Cifuentes of the Guardia Civil, slapping faces and taking names as she investigates what appears to be the murder and mutilation of a local good-time girl (Núria Prims). Along the way she tangles with an ensemble of “colourful locals” as each meticulously timed beat of the film moves us a surprising step further along the murky story of the body in the woods and how it got there, and around another looping coil of a knotted narrative of depravity and excess, as gruesome as it is meaningless. Which Jordà ties off with as neat a bow of a surprise ending as anyone could want.
Jordà made a lot more politically radical documentaries than he did entertainments, and his direction of BODY has a documentary feel, in the best sense. There’s one coup de theatre that seems a little too slick in the context, well executed though it is, but otherwise BODY is a clear, unflinching, visual record of what happened, or what seemed to, leavened with occasional flashes of grace and artistry. BODY contains echoes of radicalism, too: Catalan independence, a woman taking on a role with real power in a society dripping with machismo, racism, immigration, sex and money.
This isn’t a glossy story of entertaining freaks, it’s a disturbingly credible tale…
Quite a few animals were harmed in the making of this film. Some like to draw parallels with TWIN PEAKS, and that’s not ridiculous, but it does BODY a disservice. There’s a grittiness to this film, a visceral (literally, for a change) charge. This isn’t a glossy story of entertaining freaks, it’s a disturbingly credible tale of the dark streams of strangeness that can lie just below the surface of any outwardly respectable society. Especially one left to marinade for a few centuries in the beautiful hill country of Catalonia.
It’s not often that audiences sit with their mouths open in wonder and astonishment at what someone has put on the screen, moving their jaws only to whisper “what!?” to themselves in bemused admiration. But for BODY they will. See it twice.