• Francesc Garrido stars as lawyer and amnesia-sufferer Juan Elias, prime suspect in the murder of his niece. (SBS)
A young woman goes missing, and the last man to see her has lost his memory – and that’s just the start of this sexy Spanish thriller where nothing is as it seems.
By
24 Jan 2019 - 1:10 PM  UPDATED 24 Jan 2019 - 1:10 PM

A man stumbles down a deserted road. He’s got blood on his clothes, his expression confused; clearly something bad has happened. Trouble is, he’s no help in finding out what that might be – he has no idea who he is or what happened to him.

Hospitalised, he’s told by his wife Alicia (Blanca Portillo) that his name is Juan Elias (Francesc Garrido) and he’s a high-flying lawyer. That’s going to come in handy, because his 22-year-old niece Ana (Susana Abaitua) is missing, and she was last seen with him. It’s her blood in his overturned car. He’s the prime suspect in a murder he can’t be sure he didn’t commit.

Amnesia has always been a great hook for a thriller. What’s more gripping than a drama where the lead can’t even trust themselves? I Know Who You Are is a mystery where even the man trying to solve it is a suspect; every step Elias takes closer to the guilty party just might be a step closer to his ending up in prison – or worse, finding out that prison is exactly where somebody like him deserves to be.

Initially Elias seems like he should be above suspicion. His wife is a high-profile judge, and together they’re something of a legal power couple. They have two children and the kind of house you’d expect to find in the pages of a design magazine. He’s a man who should be able to make his problems go away without resorting to anything as crude as killing (let alone doing the killing himself). Surely his memory problems come from an accident and nothing more?

Unfortunately for the memory-wiped Elias, his previous self has left him in a situation he can’t wriggle out of. There’s now an official investigation into his niece’s disappearance, and her blood in his car makes him pretty much the only suspect they’re interested in. Worse, Ana’s father has also set in motion a private investigation, hiring a local law firm whose hungry young prosecutor Eva Durán (Aida Folch) is a little too keen to take him down.

(There’s another connection too – state prosecutor Marta Hess (Eva Santolaria) is leading the public investigation into Ana’s disappearance and sleeping with one of the partners at the law firm running the private investigation. Elias better hope she doesn’t have a reason to hold a grudge against him…)

Duelling investigations and a top-ranked lawyer struggling to regain his skills so he can retain his freedom; that’d be more than enough to go on with for most television series. But there’s more to I Know Who You Are. Amnesia stories are an effective way to dig into a character’s past, with the lead figuring out who they used to be and showing us at the same time. In Elias’s case, he gradually starts to figure out that the man he was before the accident just might not be the man he wants to be today.

For one thing, nobody really seems to like him all that much, including his wife (though at least he has a decent connection with the kids, watching movies with one and smoking dope with the other). For another, his past seems a little shady, if you can call having had an affair with Hess when she was a student and he was her lecturer shady. Elias really isn’t having any luck with these prosecutors.

Perhaps most importantly, the disappearance of Ana seems to have triggered an all-out war between two sides of the family, with Elias’s brother-in-law clearly out for blood. Obviously, Elias being a suspect in his niece’s death isn’t exactly the kind of thing that brings a family together. But this is a feud that goes deeper than that, with professional rivalries and personal issues he can’t even remember, putting Elias in a very vulnerable position indeed.

But just how vulnerable is Elias? As we’re constantly reminded of how long it’s been since Ana disappeared, there are hints that maybe his memory isn’t quite as wiped as we’re led to believe. He seems to at least recognise Durán; if that part of his past is still there, what else might he be hiding from those around him?

After all, this is a lawyer who used to tell his clients to fake post-traumatic memory loss when applying for bail. Maybe all he needed to remember was how to forget.

I Know Who You Are  is streaming now at SBS On Demand:

 

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