God’s Crooked Lines is a Tense Spanish Thriller

Alice Oscura, Featured Writer

Plot: Private investigator Alice Gould checks into a mental asylum under the guise of suffering from paranoia. Her objective is to investigate the death of a patient under mysterious circumstances. Alice is soon facing the battle of being held against her will due to a betrayal of the worst kind.

Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead

Review: In this psychological thriller coming out of Spain, a brilliantly quick-witted private investigator finds herself the object of a conspiracy after she checks into a mental asylum pretending to suffer from paranoia. Directed and written by Oriol Paolo (The Body, The Invisible Guest) the film captured six nominations at the 37th Annual Goya Awards which included Best Leading Actress and Best Screenplay. God’s Crooked Lines is based on a 1979 novel of the same name written by Torcuato Luca de Tena.

The timeline of the story is set in the year 1979 when Alice Gould (Bárbara Lennie) checks into the mental institution using the married surname Almenara. Alice is a woman of wealth indicated by her matching leather luggage and dress code. Her file states that she has attempted to murder her husband Heliodoro (David Selvas) twice via poisoning and that Alice holds a degree in Chemistry. The doctors are also warned that she is a woman of high intelligence with the particular skill set of being able to lie convincingly to manipulate a situation in her favour. Once she’s checked in, Alice begins her work behind the scenes investigating the questionable death of a patient named Damián Olmo. It is soon revealed that her client is Damián’s father, Dr. Raimundo García del Olmo (Lluís Soler), and that she is conducting her investigation with the knowledge of the institution’s director Samuel Alvar (Eduard Fernández). However, Alice is yet to meet Alvar face to face. After she is almost raped by a fellow patient, she loses consciousness only to awaken to the news that the patient is now dead at her hands. The moment that she finally meets Alvar is extremely pivotal to the plot because then the story twists and the audience is left wondering if indeed Alice is who she claims to be. Is the story a total manipulation that was concocted by her paranoia or was she betrayed by those closest to her?

The name of the film is inspired by a peculiar line in the film spoken by Dr. Samuel Alvar when he tries to explain to the investigating police Inspector his philosophy regarding the mentally ill— that if God created man in his image and likeness then the mentally ill are like God’s crooked lines…his mistakes. It’s a twisted analogy, to say the least, but it perfectly matches the tone of the film’s plot. The tense, foreboding atmosphere combined with the unnerving behaviour of the patients in the facility all add to the building crescendo of the story’s ambiguity. One of the greater strengths of the story is the opposition that the female main character faces against her powerful male counterparts who belittle and second guess her intelligence at every turn. Watching her overcome these challenges is femininely empowering.

It is easy to see why Spanish actress Bárbara Lennie (Magical Girl, Maria <and Everybody Else>) was nominated for the role. Lennie’s powerful and passionate performance was perfection. The audience should pay attention to how she was able to shift the atmosphere of scenes by using just her eyes and the simplest of gestures.

God’s Crooked Lines can be a bit triggering as the heart of the story lies in mental illness and how it is perceived. Its breathtaking conclusion is the icing on the cake but may not be to everyone’s satisfaction.

Nobody does provocative, mind-bending thrillers like the Spanish. If you want to check out God’s Crooked Lines, it is currently available to stream via Netflix.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

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Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More