Live Flesh

Taut and torrid, Live Flesh delivers everything you could possibly want from a 90s erotic thriller: smoldering glances, smoking guns and heaps of high-class carnality. Approaching Dostoevsky by way of Eszterhas, Almodóvar sharpens a paperback tale of infidelity and revenge into a something both poetic and political. Pared-down by its director’s florid standards, Live Flesh still surprises at every turn–nowhere more vividly than in Javier Bardem’s portrayal of David, a cop-turned-Paralympian trying to save his marriage after the assailant whose bullet put him in a wheelchair is released from prison. Intense, athletic and uncontainable, Bardem pushes Almodóvar to new kinetic and expressive heights, yielding some of the director’s most viscerally thrilling sequences to date. While its technique and emotional depth paved the way for the masterpieces to come, Live Flesh also satisfies a more basic moviegoing lust–for unadulterated popcorn.

Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 1997, 35mm, 103 min.

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