Directed by Alfonso Cortés-Cavanillas
Screened at Grimmfest Easter 2022
Spanish language with English subtitles
Paloma, a young lesbian woman, discovers another woman using her photograph on a dating app. Deciding to confront the imposter, Paloma’s horrified when she uncovers that the girl hasn’t stolen her images but is her doppelganger. Though initially freaked out by the similarities between them, she begins to feel some soft of comfort from interacting with the other “her” until things start to take a sinister turn as her doppelganger’s life seeps into her own.
Set in Spain during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, EGO highlights the isolation, stress and trauma endured by the population during this time, where contact with the outside world was left to digital interactions only. The impact is particularly worse for those with existing problems, such as the film’s lead character Paloma who regularly has nightmares about finding her father in the drawing room of their apartment after committing suicide. To combat her depression following the traumatic events of her father’s death, she has regular sessions with a therapist to ensure she doesn’t regress to her old, self-destructing ways. By talking about her worries and concerns, she seems to be coping with what life has thrown at her.
Paloma seems a fun-loving girl who has an affinity for Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want To Have Fun, an upbeat track that will soon take on a sinister edge. As we see her scroll through the ample selection of available women on a dating profile app, flirtatious Paloma strikes up a conversation with a few of them before freezing to the spot when she sees her own face staring back at her under the pseudonym Goliadkin. After consulting her best friend Jorge for advice, the rebellious youngster decides to tackle the issue head on, assuming that the person impersonating her is a guy trying to catfish women. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
When we discover the other person is Paloma’s doppelganger, I started to get vibes of The Broken starring Lena Headey but EGO goes in a direction of its own. The way in which the connection between the two is slowly teased out works to creepy effect. Mixed emotions from Paloma combined with the viewer’s genuine concern and suspicion over the doppelganger, who seems to have a different attitude when Paloma isn’t looking directly at her on screen, leads to a tense situation. However, when the doppelganger seems to be listening in to Paloma’s life and even hanging around the same apartment building, the tale takes on a much sinister vibe.
With a history of mental health issues and self harming, it’s no surprise that Paloma’s mother Mariajo is concerned for her daughter and believes that her stories of being harassed are signs of her condition deteriorating once again. It’s painful to watch Paloma desperately try to get through to her mum the reality of what she’s experiencing whilst a worried Mariajo tries to support her daughter in fear of what might become if she spirals out of control.
With most of the film wrapped up in the confines of their apartment, EGO presents a suffocating environment where every thought, feeling and action is heightened. Couple this with lockdown and it becomes a boiling pot of emotions where things may not be quite what they seem.
The small cast brilliantly breathes life and humanity into the project, especially María Pedraza who’s job is to carry the weight of the plot in not one but two roles as Paloma and her doppelganger. It’s difficult to not get emotionally invested into Paloma’s life as she struggles to manage the horror she’s faced with, knowing that no-one believes what she’s saying.
With captivating performances and an intriguing plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat, EGO is a tight knit psychological thriller exploring the chaos of the realities we face.