LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 12/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Almodovar here shucks his tendency to blend campy sexuality and what he calls "screwball drama" for a strong work that instead fuses intense, real eroticism and the violence of a thriller into a powerful drama of fever-pitch emotionality. Victor, born on a bus in a more typical Almodovar opening sequence featuring Penelope Cruz as his mother, is a loner and a man on the edge. He stalks Elena, a junkie-prostitute-drug dealer and forces his way inside her apartment. When two cops subsequently bust her for possession, they don't count on Victor, there with her, who pulls a gun on the cops in a scene that ends with one of them being paralyzed from a shot to the base of his spine.Victor is nabbed and sent to prison. On his release, he discovers that Elena, whom he still lusts for, is now married to the paralyzed cop. And of course Victor cannot leave well enough alone.It's the interplay of the second cop, the second cop's wife, Victor, and Elena that brings the emotional fluids here to a boil. The story development including surprising revelations establishes a momentum that results in a climax more than worthy of the preceding events, and that more than justifies the label of thriller for this film.Lust, jealousy, murder, betrayal--all the juicy stuff that thrillers are made of--are, in the hands of a unique Spanish director, given a searing life of their own. It's truly a wonder to see this perfect mesh of out-of-control emotions, Spanish culture, and dazzling eroticism.A brilliant film. Although All About My Mother is superb, it is more a return to Almodovar's sensibilities. Live Flesh is unique and is even unique for Almodovar. This makes it really special."
Rich, Erotic And Full Of Energy.
Mr. Fellini | El Paso, Texas United States | 06/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Pedro Almodovar's "Live Flesh" is a film noir full of style, exhilaration, richness and excellent erotic storytelling. Almodovar, the best director from Spain since the great Luis Bunuel, shows here a complexity in filmmaking few directors achieve. His screenplay here is exquisitly detailed in story and situations. The story by itself keeps us gripped and interested. The way the story unfolds has a lot of energy and Almodovar surprises us with revelations at every corner. To look at "Live Flesh" is to look at a great example of good foreign cinema, which sometimes vastly surpasses American cinema. This is great film noir."
Heady stuff that never compromises - typical Almodovar
Penguin Egg | London, England | 07/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Live Flesh" begins with Victor Plaza being born on a bus in Franco's Spain in 1970 and ends, twenty six years later, with... well, I wont spoil the ending; but typically with Almodovar, it is fitting and poetic. In between, we follow Victor on his journey into manhood, as he learns the hard way about disillusion, betrayal, love, lust, life, death, and tragedy. As a young man, Victor believes that a one-off sexual encounter with a beautiful Italian junkie is something more than it is, and pesters her to such an extent that she draws a gun on him in order to get him to leave. A struggle ensues. The gun accidentally goes off, and although noone is hurt, it brings the unwelcome attention of two policemen. Another struggle ensues. Another shot is fired. One of the policemen is paralysed from the waist down. From then on, all four of their lives become tragically entwined; with deception and misunderstanding leading towards bitterness and envy. Inevitably, the lies are stripped away, unwanted truths are revealed, and all the various dilemmas are resolved amidst a scene of emotional and actual carnage. This must sound like heady stuff, almost melodramatic? It is. This is Almodovar, after all. There is the usual complex plotting that reveals the strains that pull apart and bring together relationships while the emotional lives of the characters are laid bare. There is the relentless drive to resolve the emotional dilemmas while avoiding sentimentality. In short, there are all the usual touches that one expects from Almodovar, including the wonderful acting from the cast. Wonderful! A film that will draw you back again and again and again."
Only in the Gifted Hands of Pedro Almodovar!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By now all movie buffs have been exposed to the singular genius of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and the numerous solid films he has placed before his admiring public. Though generally recognized as the maestro of zany, over the edge, ludicrous comedies, his later works have included such tender and truly gripping films as 'Talk to Her' and 'All About My Mother' and it is into this vein that LIVE FLESH falls.
The story is just as surreal as any he has filmed and certainly the quality of the filming, direction and acting is on a par with the best of his work, but LIVE FLESH deals with some fairly grim issues that in the hands of other directors might have become either ruinous parodies of the old films from the 1940s or as bloody boring and tired retreads. Herein lies Almodovar's magic.
Beginning in 1970 Franco's Madrid, a prostitute (Penelope Cruz) goes into labor and with the aid of what appears to be a transvestite fellow hooker gives birth to a son Victor (later played by Liberto Rabal) - on a bus! Flash forward to the 1990s and Victor is caught in a drug deal by two policemen David (Javier Bardem) and Sancho (Jose Sancho). In the ruckus David is shot in the spine resulting in paraplegia. Victor is imprisoned, David becomes a national hero as a paraplegic basketball player married to Clara who runs an orphanage and though she loves David, her sexual needs are only minimally met by David. Sancho has become an alcoholic macho cop.
When Victor is released form prison he pledges revenge on David and Sancho, falls under the influence of Clara from whom he learns his role as a sexual male and begins an affair with her, and when eventually David discovers Clara's 'betrayal' he is able to forgive for the sake of his love for his wife's plight at living with a paraplegic. Victor progresses toward being the decent human being capable of reform and the film closes in the circular manner of most of Almodovar's films: Clara is giving birth to Victor's son 'in transit' in 1996!
The actual story is, of course, much more convoluted and tightly profound than this too brief summary, but you must see the process by watching the film to garner all the beauty that is Almodovar's gift for story telling. Every member of the cast is superb and the action moves at such a fast pace, with just the right amount of sensual sexual encounters to keep in line with Almodovar's style, that this film seems very short. The vivid color palette and the completely appropriate musical score are also trademarks of this gifted director. Highly recommended! Grady Harp, March 05"
Check Out Bardem pre-"Before Night Falls"
Andy Orrock | Dallas, TX | 08/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen all of Aldomovar's films, and I'd have to put this one right behind "All About My Mother." It has the typical Aldomovar intersecting characters & some of his trademark campiness, but the polish and professionalism that burst out in "All About My Mother" really started in "Live Flesh," his work prior to that Oscar-winning breakthrough.Not mentioned in any of the other reviews here is the reason I rented the film: a chance to see Javier Bardem before his triumph as Reinaldo Arenas in Julian Schnabel's "Before Night Falls." That alone is worth your checking out this movie. Watching Live Flesh," you gain even more respect for his depiction of Arenas. He demonstrates amazing range. There is a gaping chasm between these two characters. Just incredible acting.[Trivia note: You can check out one of Bardem's first film appearances in an earlier Aldomovar picture called "High Heels." He's on screen for no more than seven seconds as a TV stage technician.]"