Pedro Almodovar has crafted some of the most exquisite films made in Spain, and among his later works, the 1997 drama "Carne Trémula" [Eng. Title: Live Flesh] is my personal favourite.
The film uses abundant symbolism to propel its story, and therefore can be approached from many different angles a la Buñuel - you can either treat it at face-value or dig deep and look at the intricate nuances - which is a personal view of Almodovar's Madrid, and the world as he sees it. As the title hints, there is constant referral to the womb - as the gateway to life, and the object of pleasure - something every character is talking about or playing with. An example - there's a moment when a brothel keeper (brilliantly performed by Pilar Bardem) calms her heavily pregnant prostitute (Penélope Cruz) on the way to hospital during a night when General Franco had just declared a state of emergency. "If fools like us don't decide to give birth once in a while, the world would be an empty place, or just full of old people..." The film is replete with such pithy observations relating to the pre-eminence of the womb around (and because of) which everything else happens. To me this film is so 'complete' that there is nothing more left to say. And the convincing manner in which Almodovar connects each of the characters is simply mind-boggling. Add to these the powerful performances by actors, the thoughtful editing and the fantastic soundtrack - the reason for my choice is self-evident. If you haven't already seen it, you really should. Highly Recommended Viewing!
Storyline in brief - After serving time for a freak incident at an Italian diplomat's house involving the daughter Elena, Victor decides to start afresh by forgetting the past. Just then he sees Elena at the cemetery - both were there for different reasons, and their lives cross path once again. But it doesn't affect only them, but those around them as well...
Compilation: Francesca Neri
Elena believes Victor is following wherever she goes, to extract some sort of revenge for his incarceration. He has now volunteered to work as an assistant at the same orphanage she's a patron of. Elena is played by the fine Italian actress Francesca Neri. In this scene, she surprises Victor by offering herself, in the understanding that after the night of passion, he will agree never to see her again. The scene is simple, but is beautifully done with a haunting Andalusian melody that makes it all the more powerful. Later, she's in bed the following morning when her husband (Javier Bardem) returns from a tournament. He starts to eat her pussy (as he normally does), but she requests him to stop because it hurt. When questioned, she says plainly, "Because I've been fucking all night"!