Excellent acting elevates Second Skin to earnest heights of heartfelt melodrama in contemporary Madrid. It's a Spanish soap opera in the most intelligent sense, inviting comparison to the intimate passion plays of Pedro... more » Almódovar and Eric Rohmer. Director Gerardo Vera's approach is more conventional, despite the fact that this modest tale of marital discord involves an unhappy wife, Elena (Ariadna Gil), whose suspicions are only slightly mistaken. Instead of another woman, her husband Alberto (Jordi Mollŕ) is having an affair with Diego (Javier Bardem, from Before Night Falls). He's tormented by his genuine love for his wife, child, and gay lover, and his inability to choose between them. Unfortunately, the screenplay decides for him, resorting to a last-minute twist of fate to resolve the dilemma that Alberto couldn't solve on his own. It's a cop-out solution, more suited to bad cable TV, weakening an otherwise honest and emotionally involving film. Recommended, with minor reservations. --Jeff Shannon« less
Bardem: fearless; Molla: even better; the ending: a copout
Andy Orrock | Dallas, TX | 03/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, if you made it here, congratulations! This movie is hard to find. Released in Spain as "Segunda Piel" and in the UK/US as "Second Skin," amazon.com has filed it oddly under "Secondskin." The only way to get here was to hop over to amazon's imdb.com affiliate, put in Javier Bardem's name, find "Segunda Piel," then use the link there to hop back over to amazon.Phew. Anyway, this movie is a real treat, up until the last 10 minutes or so. Bardem plays a gay man again (albeit, *quite* different than his superb playing of Reinaldo Arenas in "Before Night Falls"), this time falling for married man Jordi Molla. As good as I expected Bardem to be, Molla is even better. He's a confused soul. He's got anguish all over his face and in every little nuanced action (the self-conscious, repetitious patting down of his hair is but one perfect touch). Bardem and Molla go further here in the portrayal of the physical aspects of their relationship than you could ever expect two equivalent American stars to go. These are two of Spain's leading actors. As a good exercise, try to picture Brad Pitt and Matt Damon in these scenes. Wouldn't happen.The ending is a copout though. Very disappointing. There had to be a better way to end it than the cheap exit taken by the filmmakers. Still though, it can't spoil two fearless performances by Bardem and Molla."
A MAN TORN IN TWO...........(or: J&J Burn Up the Screen)
JUST A REVIEWER2 | 06/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
(Torn between the life society forces one to live and the life one needs live...........)
How utterly devastating for lead character, Alberto, as for any of us, to face the realization that everything he's done in life (carrying on a family work tradition, courting and marrying, parenting) is NOT who he really is. A third generation (grandfather, father before him) airport operations worker, and husband / father......these are all roles in life which have been 'expected' of him, all roles in which he's truly tried to give his best. In the end, all that trying might not prove to be enough. But would even finding the "love of his life" (Javier Bardem's Diego) prove enough? He'd thought....hoped....it would. After all, it is this man whom he's told in so many words: "I think this time with you has been the best in my life."
Yet, can someone truly successfully live a double life? Alberto is faced with answering this quandary upon Elena's discovery of his outside-their-marriage activities. In seeking the answer, will he find his feelings for Elena prove the greater or will he find their life together has been based on only what was expected of him (expectations......expectations, meeting them can tear you apart)? To compound his conflict, at the near conclusion of everything, when Diego says: "you have to start over......," you can plainly see the realization in Jordi Molla's oh-so-expressive eyes and face (this man is so beautiful), that his quandary has just been pushed beyond the level of human endurance.
FINAL RESTATEMENT: In the end, then, we can see we have been given the study of a man raised and pushed into being something he isn't. It's the story of oh, so many out there. Some are able to break the mold, others not---the strength of commitments (to spouse, to children, family) being too great. Or perhaps that's the excuse used for staying within the mold. But in the hearts and minds of those who do stay, the longings---those yearnings for "the other"---are there.......always there.......and they hurt. Alberto might be able to break from the mold, but to what point? Only viewing this film, dear reader, will provide you the answer.
(A word of warning to those possibly offended by scenes of male love-making. In the "Unrated' version, they are intense)
PS---Many aspects of this Spanish film pre-sage ones in America's later released "Brokeback Mountain" (2005). Was Ennis's conflict any more soul-wrenching than Alberto's? Yes, Ennis is much the simpler man, but over and above that, when it comes to the love of your life, does it really matter where in this world you find that love (out-of-the-way ranch town or bustling city.......lofty urban areas or soaring mountains)?
Couldn't stop watching it
Kimberly A. Allen | York, PA | 03/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I could not stop watching this movie. The acting was superb. Javier Bardem, Jordi Molla, and Ariandna Gil did awesome jobs of acting. This movie did a great job in showing that being gay is not about what society or the media has perceived it to be. It's about real life people who are no different than straight people other than to struggle with what society deems as "bad". This film shows how being gay is not a decision you just make one day, and how it really affected this man's life,the people around him, and the love he had for both his family and his lover. I love the ending where the wife and the lover are bonded by the feelings they share for this one man. You cannot help but fall in love with all these characters. Awesome movie."
An acting masterpiece
Jax | 02/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Technically and acting wise, I commend this film.
The film opens with a great musical score, coupled with very good images that remind me of the Rorschach inkblots used for psychological testing. The musical score reverberates throughout the film, allowing the film to breathe a life of its own. The triumvirate of Javier Bardem, Ariadna Gil and Jordi Molla is probably one of the finest major acting ensemble (and best looking, if I may add) I've seen in recent memory.
However, the film's story has many loopholes. One is the recurring obsession of Diego for Alberto. Given this premise, I don't know why he never really went out of his way to find out the truth about his lover, especially that he acted strange many times when they were together. He only found out about Alberto having a family when Elena confronted him. And he appeared somewhat indifferent after finding out. Also, Elena's character comes off as somewhat vulnerable. Her one night stand with her co-worker (who eventually turned her down when she separated indefintely with her husband) was justified only because she needed someone to be intimate with at that time. Elena is a central character in this film and I believe what she was going through should have been given the same emphasis as the emotional lows presented for the character of Alberto.
The ending reminded of the Italian film "His Secret Life" [...]where the wife and the male lover became friends after the husband died. Only that this film's ending is actually the beginning of that film. This ending has its merits because it was then that the gamut of emotions running through the characters of Elena and Alberto were finally highlighted. Before that, the central struggle was placed heavily on the Alberto character.
In all, I believe this is a good film that makes up for its flaws in more ways than one."
Javier Bardem is once again amazing in this film.
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 04/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After viewing this the other day I find it intriguing. This film consist of an married couple and a male lover, only this time it's not the wife but the husband who's cheating with another man. Some of the scenes made me cringed a speck. Though, it is a bit TV plot based on a true story, and it has rarely been seen on cinema, doesn't necessarily mean that it cannot be done. In fact, the quality that makes this particular movie a good piece of art is that it portrayed as a good archetype of a modern life situation that happen to occur more often than one could suspect.
The husband's unwillingness and incapableness to find his true nature, constantly lying to his wife and his lover, has driven those last characters to despair in understanding and helping the man they love but who they don't know. The wife never suspected that her lack of involvement in their relationship could endanger her marriage at the point of seeing her husband seeking for an affair. As for the gay lover, the fact that his present companion has afraid to be seen in public with him, like two lovers rather than two friends, hurts him badly because he accepts his own nature. The intriguing excuses of Alberto, the husband, makes them reacting towards him trying to solve the puzzle that he consists, when the easy way out of the situation is right near them (like when the wife cannot enjoy being with another man when she has the opportunity or the lover won't accept his female colleague to help getting over him). Three persons portrayed in their interior (the opening credits with the x-rays is one of the most beautiful openings I've seen lately) with their emotions thickening as the film passes.
The players of this movie are excellent, particularly Ariadna Gil, the wife. What disappointed me were the last fifteen minutes in which seems that the writer and director of this movie were replaced by others who didn't know what was done before, leaving the ending so pathetic and inconclusive.
I had read that this film has caused a lot of controversy in Spain. It is establishing a trend in Spanish films exploiting gay themes by casting some of the country's most popular male stars as lovers to lure viewers, therefore appealing to voyeurism. This "gayploitation" has been going on for over a decade in Spanish cinema. In fact, it's hard to name an established Spanish actor who hasn't appeared in at least one gay role. However, in most cases, these roles or their sexuality have been secondary. Whether this film is voyeuristic or not is certainly up to the viewer to decide. Still, it is worth a watch. "