Heavy emotions, cleverly crafted thrills and powerful atmospherics rub shoulders in Imanol Uribe’s “Strangers,” an initially intriguing psychodrama that falls apart after an hour when labyrinthine mind games start to swamp the action. Uribe is still trying to recover his form after 1994’s “Numbered Days,” and pic is probably too challenging to attract interest outside standard Spanish territories.
Carmelo Gomez plays private dick Lamarca, tormented by dreams of his own death. He is hired by Eduardo (Sergi Mateu) to follow the latter’s bored wife, Sofia (Maria Casal), when she starts behaving oddly following her mother’s suicide. After the video evidence — non-controversial stuff — is wrongly delivered to Sofia, she hires Lamarca under a false name and vengefully decides to perform for the cameras, later getting emotionally entangled with Lamarca. A tacked-on subplot involving a singer, Alicia (camera-friendly Ingrid Rubio), never takes off. Perfs are suitably edgy, but motivation is sketchy — Gomez in particular struggles with the change from troubled voyeur to full-blown psychotic as script clumsily oversteps genre limits and tries to illustrate the notion that we’re all basically strangers to one another.