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  Offering, The The Male Daze
Year: 2020
Director: Ventura Durall
Stars: Alex Brendemühl, Verónica Echegui, Anna Alarcon, Pablo Molinero, Claudia Riera, Josh Climent, Jaime Linares, Imma Sancho, Antonio Buil, Laura Weissmahr, Monica Van Campen, Talia Bohoyo, Paula Braguinsky, Jorge Silvestre, Manuel Climent
Genre: Drama, Sex, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jan (Alex Bremdemühl) operates a business which caters for a clientele both exclusive and sharing something everyone on the planet has in common. He provides succour for the bereaved by taking them carefully curated final messages from their loved ones, or the deceased anyway, and plays them on specially designed video equipment. Today he is over at the home of Rita (Verónica Echegui) whose father has passed away, however she did not know this so when he interrupts her job - she works from home as a cam girl - and shows her the message from the man she did not have a good relationship with, she suffers a sudden breakdown and tries to commit suicide by slashing her wrists. Luckily, Jan rescues her... but lucky for who?

Indeed, Jan is so creepy from the first few minutes of this so-called erotic drama that you half expect him to finish off poor Rita and move onto his next victim, but nothing so simple happens here in a twisting narrative from director Ventura Durall. It was no surprise that the leading man previously played Dr Josef Mengele, because he held an air of chilling manipulation in this effort, and that's before we are aware of the whole plan he is instigating, we can tell he is up to no good, yet that would only be part of the story. There were many thrillers and serious dramas where the villain was an entitled male from this era, and The Offering was no different, but male entitlement can take different forms, and this one was truly strange once it untangled itself.

Who was it meant to benefit? Even Jan, who has devised the scheme, comes out of it a poorer man, yet is so wrapped up in himself and what others should be doing for him that he is blinkered by his own selfish needs. But he's not the only one, as we discover over the course of nearly two hours in quite some depth where Rita emerged as the one character with uncomplicated, and therefore sympathetic, motives: everyone else is obsessed with their own feelings and what others can do for them. Soon after that queasy prologue which places Rita in a position of weakness in relation to everyone else, from her clients to Jan who starts to manipulate her, we are introduced to Violeta (Anna Alarcon) who is a psychiatrist, a self-medicating psychiatrist, at that. Rita makes an appointment with her, but rapidly reveals herself as the agent of Jan, who wants to see Violeta again.

We find out why in a series of flashbacks to the shrink's teenage version (Claudia Riera), who had a passionate fling with local bad boy and beach bum Jan (young version played by Josh Climent), something it transpires neither of them really recovered from. Now they are in early middle age, but Violeta has a more stable life than Jan, some would say boring, though her husband Nico (Pablo Molinero) and father of her two young children has a volatile streak that suggests he is not as settled as she would like them to be. When there is a lunch party arranged, after a lot of persuasion for the reluctant Violeta, there follows an uncomfortable watch as Rita is well aware she is there to instigate an afternoon of partner-swapping, and they get drunker and higher until... Well, let's not spoil the conclusion, but the point was the ghosts of the past haunt some people day by day without them ever realising it's better for everyone to let things go. The erotic element, incidentally, seemed to stem from the cast doffing their togs at regular intervals, all the main performers appeared nude, though perhaps predictably the actresses were less shy. Music by Alberto R. Lucendo.

Aka: L'ofrena

The Offering is in cinemas and on Virtual Cinemas and VOD - 30th July 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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