If you could live your life all over, would you make the same choices? Certainly a difficult question to answer, especially for Eva, the protagonist of “Lo Mejor de Eva” (The Best of Eva), the 2012 erotic crime thriller directed by Mariano Barroso.
Eva (Leonor Watling) is a young, newly promoted judge in Madrid. When an Eastern European prostitute and striptease dancer is brutally murdered, Eva sees her chance of a conviction as all indications point to Peña (Helio Pedregal), a powerful and corrupt character who has a string of criminal cases against him, but has never been prosecuted.
Eva, who had wanted to be a ballet dancer when she was younger but was convinced by her strict father to take up law, feels a sense of kinship with the dead woman. As the movie unfolds, we see the contradictory relationship she has with the father, alternately loving and hating him, refusing to even visit him regularly when he lay in coma in a hospital after a stroke.
Rocco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) enters her life in a most curious way: appearing on her doorsteps one rainy night offering escort service. A mistake in addresses, it seems, but Rocco also tells her that he might be able to help in the conviction, because the dead prostitute was his close friend.
Needless to say, Rocco is tall, attractive, sensitive and seductive. Eva has always followed a rigid pattern in life; her sense of justice is inflexible, like her pattern of living alone, including a strict running schedule at night. After her encounters with Rocco however, Eva finds herself in a maelstrom of dizzying emotions that she cannot control. The denouement hurtles into a very suspenseful and surprising, but satisfying resolution.
Leonor Watling (“Habla con Ella” is among her movies) gives a sterling performance of a stiff and always-in-control lawyer who now finds herself beyond her depth as she becomes obsessed with the prosecution of Peña, the success of which will certainly give her prestige and honor; and being drawn into the web of mystery that surrounds Rocco. She gives flesh to the character Eva, both the seduced and the seducer, in the slightest twitch of the lip, a quick grimace, a sudden tremor of the fingers, a furrow of an eyebrow.
Some may find the need to suspend disbelief on how such a woman who had been in control all her life suddenly unravels, opening herself to precarious and at times inconceivably dangerous situations, but that is only one of the story’s strengths. And like her namesake in the Garden of Eden, partaking of the forbidden fruit, as it were, brings consequences, both deliriously sensual and emotionally gratifying beyond imagination.
Miguel Ángel Silvestre gives life to the character of Rocco as the handsome gigolo, suave, soft-spoken, mysterious, and as such, dangerous. The erotic scenes between the two sizzle, and the camera never flinches in its honest depiction.
Adriana Ugarte as Marta, the sister of Eva, and Nathalie Posa as Berta, the wife of Peña, provide strong support in this film, which will long be remembered after it has been enjoyed.