Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Spain, 2004. Canal+ España, El Deseo, Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales, Preparatory Action of the European Union, Televisión Española. Screenplay by Pedro Almodovar. Cinematography by Jose Luis Alcaine. Produced by Agustín Almodóvar, Pedro Almodovar. Music by Alberto Iglesias. Production Design by Antxon Gomez. Costume Design by Paco Delgado, Jean-Paul Gaultier. Film Editing by José Salcedo. Independent Spirit Awards 2004. National Board of Review Awards 2004. New York Film Critics Awards 2004. Toronto International Film Festival 2004.
When Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal) shows up at the production office of filmmaker and old friend Enrique (Fele Martínez), he brings with him a script based on their childhood together in a strict Catholic school, complete with sexually abusive priest and their own love affair. He also opens a floodgate of memories that send Enrique into confusion over his judgment until he investigates the matter a little further and discovers that everyone has their own take on the past. This one’s plot, set in just-post-Franco 1980 Spain, is uncovered bit by bit through character revelation, and benefits greatly from director Pedro Almodovar’s sense of visual flair and emotional complexity. It also features Bernal at his absolute best and most challenging film role to date (he displays an impressive Spanish accent and is more than fetching in both drag and 1980s-era Adidas shorts). It’s interesting to notice that although Almodovar wrote the original draft of the screenplay (which is a very personal, slightly autobiographical one) way back before he made his first feature Pepi, Luci, Bom…, this one shows considerable development of his artistry: it combines his earlier, naughtier films like Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! with the densely felt pathos of later work like High Heels and Talk To Her. Alberto Iglesias contributes a marvelous score that would have made Bernard Herrmann extremely proud, and Talk To Her cast members Javier Cámara and Leonor Watling have cameos.