Live Flesh (film)

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Live Flesh
Carne treumla.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Produced by Agustín Almodóvar
Written by Jorge Guerricaechevarria
Pedro Almodóvar
Ray Loriga
Based on Live Flesh 
by Ruth Rendell
Starring Javier Bardem
Francesca Neri
Liberto Rabal
Music by Alberto Iglesias
Cinematography Alffonso Beato
Edited by José Salcedo
Production
  company
El Deseo S.A.
CiBy 2000
France 3 Cinéma
Distributed by Warner Sogefilms (Spain)
Samuel Goldwyn Films (US)
20th Century Fox (Mexico)
Pathé (UK)
Release date(s)
  • 12 October 1997 (1997-10-12) (New York)
  • 29 October 1997 (1997-10-29) (France)
  • 16 January 1998 (1998-01-16) (US)
  • 22 May 1998 (1998-05-22) (Mexico)
Running time 103 minutes
Country France
Spain
Language Spanish
Italian
Box office $1,713,459[1]

Live Flesh (Spanish: Carne Trémula) is a 1997 Spanish romantic drama thriller film, written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, starring Liberto Rabal, Javier Bardem, and Francesca Neri. The film is loosely based on Ruth Rendell's book Live Flesh.

Plot[edit]

Madrid, Christmas 1970: with the nation under a state of emergency ordered by the Franco regime, a young prostitute, Isabel Plaza Caballero (Penélope Cruz), gives birth on a bus to a son she names Victor. Twenty years later, Victor Plaza (Liberto Rabal) shows up for a date he made with Elena (Francesca Neri), a junkie with whom he had sex a week earlier. Waiting for her dealer to arrive, Elena is not interested in seeing Victor and tells him to leave. Finally she gets a gun and orders him out of the flat. Enraged, Victor wrestles the gun from her; in the process Elena gets knocked out, and the gun goes off.

A neighbor hears the shot and calls the police; and two cops respond to the report. The older cop, Sancho (Jose Sancho), is an unstable alcoholic who suspects his wife Clara (Angela Molina) of infidelity. The younger cop, David (Javier Bardem), more clean-cut and sober, prefers to do things by the book. Through the window they catch sight of Victor physically struggling with Elena, and Sancho is ready to storm in, while David wants to call for a back-up. When they enter, Victor holds Elena hostage with her gun. David tries to calm him down and get him to drop his gun, but Sancho sabotages his efforts by continually threatening Victor. Finally, David puts his gun to Sancho's head, gets him and Victor to put down their guns and orders Elena to flee. Sancho then lunges for Victor, they wrestle for the gun, and another shot rings out, hitting David.

Two years later, Victor, in jail, watches a wheelchair basketball match: the now partially paralyzed David is a star player in the 1992 Summer Paralympics, with Elena, who is now his wife, cheering him on from the sidelines. Victor has made good use of his time, taking a correspondence course in education, working out, and enriching his mind with a variety of subjects, including the Bible. Before he is released, another four years later, his mother dies and leaves him some money and a house in the slums. One of his first stops after he gets out of jail is his mother's grave, where he encounters Elena at her father's funeral. While leaving the cemetery he meets Clara, Sancho's wife.

Elena, now off drugs and operating an orphanage, tells David of her encounter with Victor. David stops by Victor's house and warns him not to go near his wife. Victor queries how he can do this, but David grabs his genitals and he doubles up. When David gets into his car to leave, he sees Clara arriving, and stay on to watch from a distance. Attracted by Victor's enthusiasm and good looks, Clara agrees to teach him how to make love, as well as pampering him with gifts and affection. She eventually falls in love with him. Victor begins to volunteer at the orphanage, which is happy to have him because he fixed the boiler, has a degree in education and is very good with the children. Elena objects, but can't find a compelling reason to throw Victor out.

David continues to trail Victor and finds out that Victor works at Elena's orphanage. He confronts him again; Victor tells him that it was Sancho who made Victor squeeze the trigger. Afterwards, David tells his wife what Victor said, and the revealing context that Sancho shot David because he was having an affair with Clara. Elena is disgusted, but still plans to leave the orphanage to get away from Victor. Victor tells Elena that his original plan of revenge was to become the world's greatest lover, make love to Elena all night long, and then leave her hanging, but that he still loves her too much to do so.

Victor tells Clara that they should stop meeting, and they break up. While Victor is on night-shift at the orphanage, Elena comes in to remove her belongings, and agrees to a night of passion with Victor, on condition that he never contacts her again. Elena tells David herself about her infidelity, and although she plans to stay with him, he plots his own revenge. Clara leaves Sancho, who was abusing her, shooting him in the process. David shows up at Sancho's place with photographic proof of Victor and Clara's affair. Sancho and David drive to Victor's house, where Sancho shoots and kills Clara, while Clara also wounds Sancho, and Sancho finally kills himself.

At the end, David narrates a letter written to his wife from Miami, where he is spending Christmas with some friends, apologizing for the way everything turned out. While at the orphanage, a pregnant Elena goes into labor and on the way to the hospital, she and Victor get stuck in heavy traffic. Victor is reminded of the circumstances of his own birth, and tells his unborn child that the fears of the Spanish have passed.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

[citation needed]

Almodóvar’s twelfth film premiered on October 12, 1997. Produced by El Deseo, CiBy 2000, and France 3 Cinéma, Live Flesh enjoyed mostly positive reviews in Spain even by critics who had previously dismissed Almodóvar’s work criticizing the plot structure of his films. José Arrroyo in Sight and Sound praised the film’s "emotional pitch: raw, fearful, passionate," its brilliant cinematic qualities and the high standard of acting by the five leads. In Neon magazine, Martin Aston concluded that "sexy movies are rarely this thrilling, thrillers never this sexy- and the two seldom combine so movingly."

On Rotten Tomatoes, Live Flesh currently holds a 79% 'Fresh' rating.[2]

Awards[edit]

The film won a 1998 Goya Award for Best Supporting Actor (José Sancho) and was nominated for Best Actor (Javier Bardem) and Best Supporting Actress (Ángela Molina).[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]