More people need to see this Spanish time travel mystery on Netflix

from netflix The ratio of good to bad movies isn’t the greatest, but there’s one thing it can still claim over its rivals: an incredibly rich vein of international titles.

The platform, Darklupine, squid game, The call — these clever, unique and compelling offerings rolled down the Netflix conveyor belt and we enjoyed them, breaking the 1-inch subtitle barrier in our wake.

And now it’s time to work up an appetite for more! The next movie you should give a try is 2018’s Mirage.

The Spanish sci-fi drama comes from Oriol Paulo, a director and screenwriter who has a habit of creating clever mystery thrillers. (His latest of his, God’s Crooked Lines, just arrived on Netflix.) Mirage is one of the best of it, and it hinges on a time travel puzzle that is solved in a satisfyingly unpredictable way.

Adriana Ugarte plays Vera Roy, a mother who finds a device that allows her to talk to the past. The opportunity only lasts during the course of a major thunderstorm, so of course there are a couple of Back to the Future references.

Vera chooses to use this miraculous discovery forever, but unknowingly changes her own timeline in doing so. Suddenly, the incredibly cute daughter of hers is no more. To make amends for this travesty, Vera embarks on a clue-finding mission, tracing exactly how her life has been altered, seeking out allies who will believe in her outlandish situation, and finding a way back to her old life, without commit any immoral act.

Mirage also stars Álvaro Morte as David.

Screenshot from Warner Bros. Pictures Spain/YouTube

This kind of time travel situation is somewhat familiar, so it seems like you can guess every path that Mirage starts to take you. Fortunately, Mirage is much smarter than your average Netflix thriller and also has a huge advantage in Ugarte’s moving performance. It’s a bit reminiscent of Margaret Qualley in Maid: she really feels the love and despair in her plight to save her child.

Revenge and romance complete Mirage’s artillery. Then, in his final act, he incorporates an element of time pressure, a countdown that threatens to trap Vera at a point of no return. All of this sets up several rewarding twists.

Always focused on the human drama, Mirage never goes into a full-blown sci-fi mode, but deftly conjures up a spooky atmosphere with a dark, stealthy opening that builds the tension, akin to Stranger Things. It helps that it’s partially set in the ’80s. People communicate in impossible ways through unexpected devices, news reports drop less-than-subtle clues about mysterious goings-on, and a nerdy kid sings a period song in a happy-sad way.

Mirage also stars Álvaro Morte, best known around the world for playing the Professor in Money Heist. Here, he plays Vera’s husband, David. He is handsome and charming and is definitely hiding something.

Mirage takes the most effective approach to what could be an overly complicated time travel concept, pulling out strong performances and achieving an emotionally satisfying conclusion. It’s the kind of neat package that wraps you in its world for 128 minutes (yes, it could be a bit shorter), then throws you off in a full, satisfied glow.

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