Starring: Lucia Bosè, Alberto Closas, Carlos Casaravilla
Director: J.A. Bardem
Running Time: 88 mins
Death Of A Cyclist (Muerte de un ciclista) is a Spanish film about a couple having an affair who accidentally run over a cyclist with their car on a remote road. However, they refuse to help him for fear of their relationship being exposed.
This is a brilliant film. With the sharp thrills that make it feel like Hitchcock himself directed this movie, Death Of A Cyclist is a properly exciting and enthralling watch throughout. But not only does it do the Hitchcockian style so well, but also adds in a level of real-world grit to proceedings that give it a slightly different identity, but one that actually adds an even greater level of tension than many of the master of the suspense’s own movies.
There’s a lot to love about Death Of A Cyclist, but the plot is arguably the best of all. Starting with a real bang, as we see the incident rapidly occur in the very first shot, this film then turns into an incredibly intelligent, unpredictable and exciting watch right up to the end.
Because not only are the two trying to hide the fact that they killed a man, but also cover up their illicit relationship, and the terrifying fact that they judged it more important than an innocent man’s own life, things are a lot more complex and messy than you’d expect. That variation of problems leaves open the door for more twists in the tale, as other parties from all around the city become involved, bringing the two perpetrators ever closer to being found out.
And then there’s the characters. The two protagonists are the most interesting by far, and the engrossing dynamic between the clearly shaken man and the much colder and more ruthless woman makes for some fantastic unpredictability throughout, as you can never be entirely sure how close these two characters really are working together, and their relationship at times seems secondary to each of their own goals, adding yet another degree of variability to the story.
The two lead performances are just as good. Lucia Bolè is fantastic as a determined and often very cold woman, yet hides that true personality well enough that you can never be quite sure as to how far she’ll go, whilst Alberto Closas complements her well with a very likable and engaging performance, albeit one that brilliantly conveys how weak his character becomes at times, in stark contrast to his lover.
The plot isn’t the most fast-paced, and it’s not full of master twists that make you rethink everything you’ve seen before, but it’s still very unpredictable throughout, and the presence of various parties all playing a part in either the investigation or the paranoid cover-up make it a really entertaining watch from start to finish.
All in all, that sort of plot is very reminiscent of films like Diabolique and Psycho. One or two characters have to cover up a dark crime, and in the process, paranoia, deceit and betrayal seep in, making for a hugely thrilling watch.
However, the one difference between Death Of A Cyclist and films like those two is that it’s quite a lot grittier. Of course, Diabolique is in particular full of some very gritty and dark moments, and Psycho often strays way further into dark and creepy territory than you’d expect, however the presence of a degree of real-world darkness and grit in this film is what sets it apart.
There’s a lot of commentary on the class divide in modern society, shown particularly through one lower-class character who is invited on a regular basis to upper-class parties, but feels isolated as if he is nothing but an entertainer, pushing him to a dark place that begins to impact on the two perpetrators as well.
It’s an interesting touch, and by being a little more in touch with the real world, the darker and grittier nature of the crime at hand becomes a lot more apparent, making just that little bit more incisive than your average Hitchcock thriller.
J.A. Bardem does a great job at directing the movie, sustaining that dark vibe well throughout, all the while maintaining the entertaining thrills of the story, and his sharp visual style adds even more to the tension and suspense at hand.
Overall, I loved Death Of A Cyclist. Intriguing, exciting, unpredictable and very intelligent, it’s an excellent watch from start to finish, and with two brilliant lead performances and some great directing, it works just as well as any classic Hitchcock movie you can think of, which is why I’m giving it an 8.4.