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Netflix The good-to-bad ratio may not be the greatest, but there’s one thing it can still claim over its competitors: an incredibly rich selection of international titles.
Platform, darklupine, Squid game, Contact — These stylish, unique, and compelling offerings rolled out on the Netflix conveyor belt, and we slurped them up, breaking the 1-inch subtitle barrier in our wake.
And now it’s time to whet your appetite for more! The next movie you should give it a chance is Sarab 2018.
This Spanish sci-fi drama comes from Eriol Paulo, a director and screenwriter who has made a habit of creating clever mystery films. (His latest, God’s Crooked Lines, just hit Netflix.) Mirage is one of his best, involving a time-travel mystery that’s solved in a satisfyingly unpredictable way.
Adriana Ugarte stars as Vera Roy, a mother who comes across a device that allows her to talk to the past. This opportunity only lasts during a massive electrical storm, so of course there are a few back-to-the-future references.
Vera decides to use this miraculous discovery for good, but unknowingly alters her own timeline in doing so. Suddenly, his cute crazy girl is gone. To correct this mischief, Vera embarks on a clue-hunting mission, tracing exactly how her life has changed, finding allies who believe in her strange problems, and finding a way to return to her old life without committing immoral acts.
This kind of time travel difficulty is somewhat familiar, so it seems like you can guess any path Mirage starts to take you down. Fortunately, Mirage is much smarter than the average Netflix trailer, and it’s also a huge asset to Ugarte’s animated performance. It’s a bit reminiscent of Margaret Qualley in The Maid: you really feel the love and desperation in her plight to save her child.
Revenge and romance surround the Mirage artillery. Then, in its final act, it incorporates the element of time pressure, a countdown that threatens to trap Vera at a point of no return. All this makes for several happy twists.
Always focused on the human drama, The Mirage never goes into full-on sci-fi mode, but it cleverly evokes an eerie atmosphere with a dark, creepy lens that makes the tension feel like Stranger Things. It helps that it’s partially set in the 80s. People impossibly communicate through unexpected devices, news reports drop subtle hints about mysterious happenings, and a nervous kid sings a period song in a happy and sad way.
Mirage also stars Alvaro Morete, known worldwide for playing the professor in Money Heist. Here he plays David, Vera’s husband. He is handsome and charming and definitely hiding something.
The Mirage takes the most effective approach to what can be a very complex time travel concept, extracting strong performances and an emotionally satisfying conclusion. It’s a neat package that encases you in its world for 128 minutes (yes, it could be a little shorter), then throws you out with a full, satisfied glow.
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