Monday, January 18, 2021

The Invisible Witness, on

It isn't Korea's Miss Granny with at least seven international remakes under its belt or Italy’s Perfect Strangers with fourteen global remakes and counting, but Spain’s The Invisible Guest is not doing too badly with two to its credit. If you have seen Oriol Paulo’s Invisible Guest or Sujoy Ghosh’s Badla than you generally know what is in store for entrepreneur Adriano Doria in Stefano Mordini’s Italian remake, The Invisible Witness, which starts streaming Wednesday on

As some viewers might remember, Doria found himself in deep gnocchi when he woke up in a locked hotel room, near the bludgeoned corpse of his mistress, Laura Vitale and 100K pile of Euros. He thought they were there to meet a blackmailer, but the encounter took a violent turn instead. The cops want to pin the murder on him and the media is loving the feeding frenzy, so his corporate lawyer has arranged a late-night meeting with high-powered criminal defense attorney Virginia Ferrara to plan their strategy.

Ferrara can immediately tell Doria is not fully leveling with her, so she drags the whole ugly truth out of him. As many of us know, the story really starts a few months prior, when Doria and Vitale were involved in a fatal auto accident while returning from a secret romantic getaway. They did not handle it well.

It is a little strange watching a film with the same twist ending for the third time, but with a different cast. For one thing, it inspires new appreciation for
Badla, because it makes clear how much the gender switch of the entrepreneur and the jury consultant/criminal lawyer really freshened up the film. Weirdly, for viewers of the previous takes, the suspense in Witness largely comes from knowing what is going on behind-the-scenes. That would really be impressive if it was intentional on Mordini’s part.

Not to be spoilery, but Riccardo Scarmarcio’s performance as Doria seems too conspicuous for those of us in the know. Maybe he plays better for fresher eyes. Regardless, this was definitely not the case with Taapsee Pannu, who was terrific in
Badla, playing off the legendary Amitabh Bachchan. However, this time around, Miriam Leone is quite memorable as Vitale (if Witness outshines its predecessors anywhere, it is with her portrayal of the ill-fated lover).

As a bonus, cinematographer Luigi Martniucci makes the mountainous Northern Italian landscape look wonderfully alluring, while still maintaining an appropriately noir look for the film. He and Mordini also employ a window motif that gives the film a deliberately Hitchcockian vibe. If you haven’t seen
Guest or Badla then Witness should be an appealing twisty-turvy thriller. However, for those who have already enjoyed Guest, Badla holds up better as a similar-but-different take. (Indeed, Badla might be the best of the three.) Recommended for newcomers, The Invisible Witness premieres Wednesday (1/20) on