Directed by Oriol Paola, “God’s Crooked Lines” is based on Torcuato Luca de Tena’s novel of the same name that was released in 1979. The film is centered around Alice Gould de Almenara, a ravishingly beautiful and extremely intelligent woman who enters a mental asylum situated in Spain to uncover the mysterious death of an inmate. She is a private investigator and was contacted by the deceased’s father to examine the case. What makes “God’s Crooked Lines” an interesting watch, even with a runtime of 155 minutes, are the multiple twists and turns. It is almost impossible to trust any one narrative—while Alice is convincing, is she truly a private investigator? Or is she delusional and wants to believe in a large conspiracy?
‘God’s Crooked Lines’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
The doctor who suggested the hospitalization of Alice, Dr. E. Donadio, wrote a letter to the asylum director, Samuel Alvar, warning him of Alice’s intelligence and asking him to never trust her lies, even if they seem convincing. Even though she was hospitalized for attempting to poison her husband several times, she wanted the facility to believe that her husband was the one who legally kidnapped her. His motive was to become the sole administrator of her large fortune. Alice had answers to every question raised; she stated that her husband chose not to involve the police in investigating the poisoning case. This was to avoid the court from appointing her a guardian, and he would no longer be the one to have sole control over her wealth. Alice was extraordinarily convincing. Her expressive eyes and witty answers could easily make anyone trust her story. From the moment Monserrat, the deputy director of the facility, met Alice, she felt immediate sympathy toward her. Alice belonged to an affluent family; she was beautiful and logically sound. She was unlike most patients living at the facility, and that was the primary reason why Monserrat wanted to accommodate her every need. She was allowed to bring along with her a book on psychology. Inside the book, she had newspaper clippings of the suicide of Damian Garcia del Olmo, the case she was investigating.
Alice befriended Ignacio Urquieta, an inmate who acknowledged his mental instability and had special privileges because of his good conduct. She also developed a connection with the twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, who were born at the facility. Romulus had grown up believing that one of the girls at the asylum was his sister, and he would go to any extent to protect her. While she was not truly his sister, he would attack anyone who dared say that to him. Romulus admired Alice and was convinced that she was their mother. Alice wondered if Damian had in any way offended Romulus and if that might have led to the murder. She also had her eye on Luis Ojeda since he had repeatedly attempted to sexually assault her. He was always accompanied by the “elephant man,” who protected him from every trouble.
During her session with Dr. Arellano, she discussed that her husband, Heliodoro, was not interested in children. Even though she did not distrust him, she would not be surprised if he had an affair. But she, on the other hand, was completely faithful to him, even though she had plenty of suitors. She expressed how she despised seeing herself in her current position and how she admired herself for wanting to be better. Arellano’s gradual change of heart becomes evident. He started to trust her and had grown emotionally invested in her. When she asked him to hand over the keys to the staff washroom, he did not hesitate, and she used it to her advantage. By clogging a commode, she bought herself enough time to snoop around the archive and find the list of patients who were allowed to leave on the day of the suicide/murder. A letter was sent by the murderer to Damian’s father, and Alice believed that the letter was written by someone who suffered from schizophrenia. She doubted Ignacio because he was the only one who was allowed to leave the facility that day. Ignacio explained that he was allowed to leave the premises every time his sister visited him, further confirming Alice’s doubt. The most important question was whether or not he suffered from schizophrenia. Noticing the panic in his eyes, she was certain that he was the one, but later she realized that he was panicking because of the rain that started pouring during their conversation. Ignacio suffered from hydrophobia, but he was not schizophrenic. She later discussed the case with Ignacio and mentioned that Dr. Alvar was the only one who knew about her secret investigation and had granted her permission to solve the case by living with the patients.
As “God’s Crooked Lines” progresses, it is almost impossible to ignore Alice’s claim. Her dedication to solving the case and her response during the sessions were proof of her mental stability and intelligence. But the words of Dr. Donadio seemed impossible to ignore. Was Alice telling the truth, or was she getting the doctors and the audience entangled in her words? Did her husband hospitalize her to get hold of her wealth?
How Did Alice Prove That She Was A Private Investigator?
Alice learned from her conversation with Ignacio that Luis was missing on the night of the incident. She followed him to the forest, hoping to get hold of him. In the forest, she met Romulus and his sister. He had built a makeshift house that acted as their safe space. While spending time with Romulus, she heard strange noises. She decided to follow the noise, knowing that someone was listening to their conversation. She was soon attacked by Luis, and she could barely remember what had happened next. She woke up in the hospital bed, and her hands and legs were tied. Arellano explained that she was the prime suspect in the murder of Luis because his body was found right next to hers. She recalled that Luis had attempted to rape her, but just then, someone else came to her rescue and murdered him. But she did not remember the person who had murdered Luis. Alice was desperate to be released, and she was relieved to notice Dr. Alvar there. She reminded him of the letters they had exchanged about the murder investigation, but he seemed completely unaware of them. She was frustrated when he refused to acknowledge their correspondence. He further denied ever communicating with Dr. Garcia del Olmo regarding the investigation.
She was completely shaken, and she realized that it was all a trap. She was made to believe that she was investigating a case, and that was how her husband got her inside the facility. Now that she was admitted, they were trying to keep her inside by force. She was kept in isolation after she attacked Dr. Alvar. She later managed to convince Monserrat to take her to a board meeting to discuss her case. She explained to the board how Dr. Donadio had not written the letter that was sent by him. She further added that her husband was not aware that she was admitting herself to the hospital; he knew that she was traveling to Buenos Aires for a few days. She tricked him and made him sign the consent form. She also established that she had lied about her husband trying to poison her, and she said so to get inside the asylum. She did not discuss the case with the facility because she believed that they would dismiss it by stating that it was all her fantasy. But she wanted to come clean now, and she provided a detailed explanation about how Dr. del Olmo had contacted her and had asked her to investigate his son’s death. He never believed that his son had committed suicide. She intensely studied the case and concluded that the murderer was one of Dr. del Olmo’s patients. To enter the hospital, she studied paranoia to convince the doctors about her mental illness. She then requested their doctor, Dr. Donadio, to attest to her condition. She quoted an extract from the sealed letter to further prove that she was the one who wrote the letter signed by Dr. Donadio. She concluded that it was all a performance and that she was not mentally unstable. She established that Dr. Alvar was lying about not knowing her because he was involved in forging documents to allow her entry into the asylum, and he did not wish to get caught for it.
Dr. Alvar rubbished her claim; he accused her of manipulating his doctors and investigating a case that had already been solved. He believed that Alice was a narcissist who could easily convince the people around her of her innocence, but when someone refused to submit to her, she tended to turn violent. Dr. Alvar further concluded that she might have poisoned her husband out of defeat. She admired him for his beauty and chose him over her many suitors. But after marrying him, she realized that he was only there for her fortune and not because he loved her. She attempted to poison him, but he was fortunate enough to recover each time. But soon, she found out that her husband was aware that she was the one behind the poisoning, and she knew that she would be punished for the crime. She could not accept that she was mentally unstable, and that is the reason why she created a story about why she needed to enter the asylum. She made herself believe that she was entering as a private investigator and not as a patient. She had the upper hand in that case, and that comforted her. While Dr. Alvar’s theory was sound, Monserrat and Arellano could not accept it. They wanted to verify every detail.
‘God’s Crooked Lines’ Ending Explained: How Did Alice Convince The Medical Board Of Her Innocence? Who Was Murdered In The End?
To verify Alice’s claim, the facility invited Dr. del Olmo to the asylum. He was present when Ignacio disclosed that Luis was not murdered by Alice. According to Ignacio’s version, the death of Luis was an accident, and Alice agreed with his statement. The police were left out of the case to not hamper the asylum’s reputation. Alice noticed Dr. del Olmo, but she failed to recognize him. When she was told that the man standing in front of her was the person, she claimed to be her client, she looked at him in disbelief. She exclaimed that the person who introduced himself as Dr. del Olmo was not the man present in the room. But Monserrat and Arellano reassured her that the man was Dr. del Olmo. Alice was visibly confused and shaken; she could sense that the story she had built was falling apart, and the people who had trusted her now stared at her with doubt. During her rigorous treatment, she wondered what the truth really was, and she subconsciously realized that the truth could be whatever she wanted it to be. Therefore, she started from the beginning again. She reanalyzed the entire story and tried to find where she had gone wrong. She realized that the man who claimed to be Dr. del Olmo was someone her husband had appointed to trick her. It was Heliodoro who got her involved in the investigation so that she would willingly enter the asylum only to be trapped there for life. She now knew the truth and again convinced Monserrat and Arellano of her innocence. She believed that Dr. Donadio, Heliodoro, and even Dr. Alvar were involved in proving her mentally unstable. She requested that Monserrat and Arellano track her bank account; if her money was missing, it would indicate that she was telling the truth. But the bank refused to disclose any details since they had no reason not to believe that she was mentally unstable. To clear his doubt, Arellano went to Alice’s house and found out that her husband had left. Meanwhile, Monserrat found out that Heliodoro had made a large donation to the asylum, further raising suspicion. Monserrat and Arellano had enough proof to believe Alice; they were convinced that she had been tricked and admitted to the hospital.
In the meantime, Alice spoke to all the members of the asylum and asked them for their support to help her escape from the facility. She asked Ignacio to hand him his lighter, and she created a fire that led to extreme chaos. This gave her the perfect opportunity to leave. Just as she was about to leave, she learned that Romulus had been killed. She decided to investigate the case, and to do so, she dealt with the coroner and entered the facility by impersonating her. She studied Romulus’s body and concluded that it was crushed by a large object, resulting in a sunken chest and several broken bones. She deduced that it was the “elephant man” who had murdered Romulus. The man had always had a liking for Romulus’s sister, but he could not get close to her, and his love remained unrequited. The only person he could call his best friend, Luis, was taken away from him. She added that it was Romulus who had murdered Luis that day in the forest to protect her. Therefore, he had enough reasons to hate Romulus, and he took advantage of the chaos to end his life. His hands consisted of the glass injuries that Alice had predicted, and he was arrested for the crime. The police were impressed by Alice’s intelligence. She introduced herself as a private investigator who was held against her will in the asylum. Even though Dr. Alvar tried to say otherwise, the police had reasons to doubt him. They said that they checked her account after Arellano visited the bank and asked them to look into it. They found out that her husband had cleared all her bank accounts, and he could only do so because she was proven to be incapacitated. The police took her case, and the faculty at the asylum wrote a letter to the city council asking for the removal of Dr. Alvar for being the corrupt director of the institute.
We later learn that Romulus was not murdered that night; it was Remus who was killed by the “elephant man.” Romulus had gone to save his sister during the fire outbreak, and the “elephant man” mistook Remus for Romulus and killed him. Alice knew the truth; she stated that as their mother figure, she could distinguish between Romulus from Remus. Perhaps Romulus wanted Remus to live, and the fact that people believed he was alive helped him cope with the tragedy. Alice promised to visit him after her release. She was presented before the medical board to discuss her case. Monserrat mentioned that they were still in search of her fugitive husband; all they knew was that he had sailed somewhere in South Asia. Alice added that the fact that Dr. Donadio was in Zurich at the same time was no coincidence. They both planned to prove her insanity. Dr. Alvar was not convinced yet; he believed that all Alice could prove was that her husband had taken the money from her account, but they did not have any proof to indicate that he came up with the sinister plan to admit her to the asylum. But Dr. Alvar decided to withdraw from voting and instead asked the rest of the faculty to make the decision. In case they voted her sane, he wanted them to replace his expulsion letter with his resignation letter. The board voted in favor of Alice and declared her sane. Before leaving the institute, Dr. Alvar stated that he had a conversation with Dr. Donadio. The man had gone on a vacation with his wife after attending the congress in Zurich. While they thought he had fled, in reality, he never received any of their correspondence. Dr. Alvar had asked Dr. Donadio to come and clarify the matter with the board. As it turned out, Dr. Donadio was the man Alice had imagined to be, Dr. del Olma. He entered and asked Alice what trouble she had gotten herself into while she looked at him with fear and disbelief.
“God’s Crooked Lines” leaves it up to the audience to draw a conclusion. Considering the number of times Alice changes her narrative, it is difficult to trust her by the end of the film. Also, when the story she had formulated fell short after the visit of Dr. del Olma, she made herself believe that the truth was whatever she wanted it to be, further indicating that she had a distorted idea about reality. When she realized that Dr. del Olma was not the man she knew, she assumed that her husband had hired someone to pretend to be Dr. del Olma. Whereas in reality, the man she imagined to be Dr. del Olma was Dr. Donadio. Even though she must have met Dr. Donadio since he was their family doctor, she conveniently distorted the truth. If we consider this the truth, we can conclude that Alice had poisoned her husband after realizing he was not in love with her and all he wanted was her fortune. He consulted Dr. Donadio and had her admitted to the hospital, after which he took all the money from her account and left the country. Of course, her husband was untrustworthy and did not shy away from taking advantage of her mental instability.
If we decide to trust Alice, chances are that she will claim that the man who introduced himself as Dr. Donadio was lying. Though it seems improbable that he would lie about his identity. What is not impossible is that Dr. Donadio was paid heavily by Heliodoro, and his report on poisoning was false. They might have even taken advantage of her mental condition to prove her guilty. He did it to earn money from the case, even if that meant hospitalizing someone against her will. It could have been a grand scheme but going by Alice’s expression at the end of “God’s Crooked Lines,” it seems that she was struggling to comprehend the truth. While she initially looked at him with confusion, her expression changed after a few seconds, indicating that her mind was busy planning to explain her version of the truth. “God’s crooked lines” toys with the audience’s mind till the very end, and the inconclusive ending further adds to the mystery.
“God’s Crooked Lines” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Oriol Paola.