Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Spain, 2011. Blue Haze Entertainment, Canal+ Espana, El Deseo, FilmNation Entertainment, Instituto de Credito Oficial, Instituto de la Cinematografia y de las Artes Audiovisuales, Television Espanola. Screenplay by Pedro Almodovar, collaboration with Agustín Almodóvar, based on the novel Tarantula by Thierry Jonquet. Cinematography by José Luis Gómez. Produced by Agustin Almodovar, Esther García. Music by Alberto Iglesias. Production Design by Antxon Gomez. Costume Design by Paco Delgado. Film Editing by José Salcedo. Cannes Film Festival 2011. Golden Globe Awards 2011. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2011. Toronto International Film Festival 2011. Washington Film Critics Awards 2011.
Precise, disturbing and elegant psychological thriller from Pedro Almodovar, who moves away from the melodramatic depths of previous works to show himself a master filmmaker equally adept at using a story to cut sharper edges. Antonio Banderas is excellent as a plastic surgeon who lives in his near-abandoned clinic home with a trapped patient (Elena Anaya) upon whom he performs his experiments for skin perfection. Marisa Paredes is equally scintillating as the housekeeper who is loyal to her employer but, like him, has plenty of skeletons in her closet. Shades of Franju’s Eyes Without A Face abound in this adaptation of “Tarantula” by Thierry Jonquet, but what is amazing is the skill and control with which Almodovar tells his story. There are hallmarks of his style everywhere, the visual splendor, the small arcs and flashbacks of the narrative, and the opportunities for some poignant touches of character sensitivity, but it’s a leaner, meaner piece of work than he’s ever done, and fans of the bountiful pathos of All About My Mother and Talk To Her might not appreciate the new direction. Watch it without prejudice, however, and you’ll be thrilled by the brilliant acting (Anaya is particularly surprising) and the delicious twists and surprises that the story has to offer.