Eugenio Mira’s Spanish thriller Agnosia spins a refreshing, if confusing, tale of misplaced love and selfish greed. Starring Eduardo Noriega and Bárbara Goenaga it focuses on one girl’s debilitating mental illness which prevents her from perceiving the world the world that surrounds her.
Set in late nineteenth century Spain, Agnosia can sometimes feel like a historical piece that isn’t quite sure what to do with itself. Entwining some impressive cinematography with a convoluted plot it suffers from its overly elaborate exploration of Joana’s condition and her carer’s selfish attempts to unlock the information she holds.
Engaged to Carles, Joana Prats is the daughter of a failing businessman. Having developed Agnosia, a mental condition that affects the sufferer’s ability to perceive reality, at a young age, she depends on the carers and servants her father employs to survive everyday life. After her doctor prescribes three days of total separation from the outside stimuli Joana is unknowingly moved to a new location so that the doctor and Martina Gedeck’s Prevert can extract vital information about her now-deceased father’s company.
The first part of the film is based on the recollections of one of Joana’s servants Meissner (Félix Gómez), who is forced to deliver his experiences with Joana after being attacked. The film then loses its way when it begins to explore Joana’s captor’s attempts to extract information from her. Utilising the similarity of the two male lead’s features the film enters a murky stage where questions are often left unanswered. Employed to pose as her fiance Carles, the servant forms a strange relationship with Joana. Lavishing her with intuitive gifts he beds her, something the real Carles hasn’t yet achieved (which leads to several glimpses of him sleeping with prostitutes).
Of course Carles smells a rat when she speaks of their union and soon realises what has happened. The imposter gets off lightly but the finale has a damning impact on Joana’s life.
Agnosia is a film whose storyline promises something it can hardly live up to. Relying rather heavily on the mysteriousness of Joana’s condition the film sometimes forgets to provides answers for its countless questions which soon becomes frustrating and makes for unnecessarily confusing watching.