10 June 2007 | gradyharp
A Taut Thriller That Keeps Circling the Viewer's Mind Through a Maze
THE KOVAK BOX is a successful little suspense/psychological thriller from the Spanish writers Daniel Monzón (who also directs) and Jorge Guerricaechevarría. The story may be a bit far fetched, but then what horror story isn't? The premise for the tale holds up well and is aided by some very fine performances by a mixture of Spanish, English, and American actors. The mood of the film is beautifully set during opening credits by a complex maze in which a white rat sniffs and ambulates from confusing corner to confusing wall - just the manner in which director Monzón plans to tell his story.
David Norton (Timothy Hutton) is a celebrated science fiction novelist visiting Majorca for a special conference accompanied by his soon to be fiancée Jane (Georgia Mackenzie). David has been having premonitions on his flight to the conference and those brooding thoughts continue as he registers for the conference and finds little disturbing clues that culminate in Jane's suicide leap from their hotel balcony. Almost simultaneously an attractive Spanish girl Silvia (Lucía Jiménez) in the same hotel 'jumps' from her balcony but is saved from death by falling onto an awning. Jane dies in the hospital: Silvia is in the bed next to Jane, witnesses David's grief, and the beginning of a bond is created.
David meets a strange old man Frank Kovak (David Kelly) who seeks an autograph of David's first novel 'Gloomy Sunday' and from there the mystery begins. David becomes the unknowing main character in a sci-fi story that mimics ideas from his own first book, a story about the implantation of devices in humans that would enable a central force to assist the victims in their own destructive ends. The plot is tightly woven from this point on and to reveal any portion of it would diminish the chair-gripping finale.
Timothy Hutton seems an odd choice for the main character of the film until his combination of cool intellect and understated passion clicks in. The film is graced by the presence of the talented Lucía Jiménez who seems to have the potential of becoming another Penelope Cruz! The cinematography by Carles Gusi and musical score by Roque Baños make the setting visually and aurally spectacular. For those who enjoy mind bender thrillers, THE KOVAK BOX will certainly please. Grady Harp