Pedro Almodóvar’s sinister slice of sc-fi horror announces itself as something of a change of direction and yet it feels immediately familiar, part of the filmmaker’s terrain that we have inhabited many times before.
There are endless quotations from film history but they seamlessly melt into his overall design, one that is emphatically his own, in no way pastiche.
An obsessive poring over the human body could be a fetish in the absolute Laura Mulvey sense except that it opens into a rich philosophical exploration of how perceptions of our own exterior impact on the inner world that it encloses.
This is Almodóvar sidestepping us very easily, reining us back at will, toying with us whilst, like all great artists, leaving a respectful room for personal interpretation.
Antonio Banderas joins forces with Almodóvar for the first time since Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! over 20 years ago and plays a plastic surgeon who obsessively grafts a radical new artificial skin on his sensual co-star Elena Anaya. He is every bit the human creator, a modern day Frankenstein, surgically recreating her but the motive is unclear. It is a return to Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face but with a fierce sexual tension, one that seemingly excites and disgusts the parties at one and the same time.
She is an enigma; a prisoner spending much of her time in the solitary confinement of a single room but appearing wholly complicit with the arrangement. We watch him endlessly watching her on a live video screen as she stares at him and us via hidden cameras. But nothing is quite as it seems and Almodóvar lays his trap for an extraordinary plot twist and conceit that subverts the Hitchcockian male gaze in a recontextualisation that takes us to the heart of sexual identity.
Marisa Paredes returns for her sixth Almodóvar film to play one of his favourite motifs, the long suffering mother. Devoted to the point of being a martyr, she takes her place in his longstanding celebration of not only mothers, but women, transsexuals and all things feminine.
Banderas does a fine job as the lead bringing a Dracula style blend of charm and malevolence to the supremely confident mad surgeon. Anaya teases us with a controlled mystery as his muse and Paredes typifies everything that we have come to expect from an Almodóvar maternal figure.
The miss-en-scene is as clinical in its composition as the surgeon’s implements and José Luis Alcaine photographs it all with his usual panache.
Well received at Cannes, Almodóvar moulds his audacious plot into another insightful exploration of gender identification and sexual politics and a full-blown transgressive assault on everything mainstream and patriarchal society in particular.female use of cialis female cialis vs female viagra does female cialis work female cialis australia