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1 item from 1997

Film review: 'Live Flesh'

13 October 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

"Live Flesh" finds Spanish director Pedro Almodovar working in a more conventional style than usual. But he still manages to work his obsessions into a relatively conventional thriller plot line.

Although lacking the giddy outrageousness that marks the filmmaker's best work, the film contains enough comedy and eroticism to connect with audiences, and may well be his biggest grossing item in years. The closing night attraction at the New York Film Festival, the picture has been picked up for distribution by MGM.

"Live Flesh" begins with a prelude set in Madrid during Franco's reign, where a young prostitute gives birth on a city bus to a boy. Flash forward 20 years, when the now grown-up Victor (Liberto Rabal) is a young man who has a one-night stand with a saucy blond named Elena (Francesca Neri).

A week later, Victor shows up at her apartment hoping to connect again, but Elena is more interested in scoring drugs than repeating the experience. A fight ensues, which attracts the attention of two policeman. During the scuffle that occurs when they intervene, one of them, the handsome David (Javier Bardem, recently seen in "Mouth to Mouth") is shot.

Flash forward again. Victor has served his time in jail, while David, now confined to a wheelchair is married to a newly demure Elena. Victor, still hung up on Elena and also seeking revenge, attempts to insinuate himself into their lives, setting off a complicated chain of events that ends in violence.

Almodovar invests his usual flair and humor into the proceedings, although he is clearly working in a more muted style than usual.

The film suffers from its overly contrived and often ludicrously melodramatic plot line, which the director is only partially able to compensate for through his typically colorful visual design and his talent for wrestling juicy performances from his actors. He also manages to infuse the film with his trademark eroticism, most notably in a torrid sequence between Rabal and Neri.

All of the performances are passionate and convincing, and tech credits are solid, particularly the gorgeous wide-screen lensing.


MGM Distribution

A Goldwyn Films Release

Director, screenplay Pedro Almodovar

Executive producer Augustin Almodovar

Photography Affonso Beato

Editor Jose Salcedo

Music Alberto Iglesias



Victor Liberto Rabal

David Javier Bardem

Elena Francesca Neri

Clara Angela Molina

Sancho Pepe Sancho

Running time -- 100 minutes


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