Tuesday 10 May 2011

Cannes 2011: Almodovar's The skin that I live in teaser

Only a few days before its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, a teaser for Pedro Almodovar's new film, The skin that I live in (La piel que habito), has been released and it looks just fantastic. While the Spanish director has been a regular at the festival for over a decade, as per my previous post about Cannes regulars, the Palme d'or has so far eluded him. (I personally remember briefly meeting him at the festival in 1992 as a shy teenager, along with Jamie Lee Curtis as they were both members of the jury that year, and mustering the courage to go and speak to them, but I digress...)

Ironically, his first attempt in competition with All about my mother in 1999 was also his best shot, with one of his best and most beloved film. Sadly that year, the jury, led by David Cronenberg, decided that social realism was they way to go, giving the Palme to Rosetta by the brothers Dardenne, a film that few people, even among their fans, remember.

The problem with such an established director is that he really needs to outdo himself to justify winning the ultimate distinction at the festival, and while he has been consistently good, he has not quite delivered the masterpiece that would swayed the members of the jury. In fact, his last one, Broken Embraces, as technically brilliant as it was, had left me cold.

This new one however is exciting for so many reasons. First of all, long time muse Antonio Banderas is back with the director that made him famous, after a nearly 20 years long hiatus. Also back is long time favourite Marisa Paredes (High heels, All about my mother...). And then the story itself, about a plastic surgeon who goes on a hunt after the man who raped his daughter, indicates a much darker and exciting new tone.

And its more tragic and passionate tone is apparent in the teaser, echoing some of his earlier work in the 80's, such as Law of Desire and Labyrinth of passion, while even adding a sci-fi/horror vibe, with the faceless woman an echo of French horror classic Eyes without a face. With a few striking shots, as usual, Almodovar displays an incredible esthetic talent, while the s&m looking relationship between the two characters reminded me of Tie me up, tie me down.

Interestingly, the film has not been released in Spain yet, which means the Cannes showing will be its true world premiere. (In the past, his films had already been released in Spain before going to the festival, as its rules allow for a film that been out in 2 countries or less and still qualify for the competition). So basically nobody has seen it yet! I an already sense the mad scramble at the bottom of steps of the Palais on the day of its presentation...

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