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Critical study of Spanish film: La piel que habito

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  1. Introduction
  2. La piel que habito
  3. Almodovar
  4. Entrapment
  5. Analysis
  6. Conclusion

Almodovar 's 2001, La piel que habito , received mixed reviews from Spanish critics, one favourably calling it an ?irracionalidad transcendida? whereas Spanish film critic Carlos Boyero called it a ?notable idiotez? . However, most critics agree that this film merits a second viewing in order to appreciate the rich texture of the film, in which a lonely and haunted plastic surgeon (Banderas) becomes dangerously entangled with his personal experiment, Vicente, or ?Vera? (Anaya) whom he believed had assaulted his mentally ill daughter, provoking her suicide. The film is the director's first exploration of science fiction, containing an amalgamation of themes concerning gender and sexuality identity, whilst at the same time exploring the prison house of the self. In this essay I will discuss the ways in which these main themes are manifested in the plot and cinematography, their effect and finally the way in which Spanish critics have received Almodóvar's latest work.

Entrapment, or, the prison house of the self, is the confinement that all Almodóvar's characters in Piel are subjected to in some form or another. It is through this mental and in Vera's case, physical, confinement that tension is cleverly built up in the first half of the film, showing Almodóvar's ability to manipulate the viewers until revealing the film's twist. The opening shot is of a sleepy Toledo, in which the looming presence of ?El Cigarral? can be seen behind bars, foreshadows this theme of incarceration. The bustle of Madrid is nowhere to be seen in this Almodóvar film, emphasizing the isolation of the characters. Furthermore, Vera's confinement, the physical isolation of her cell and her body suit are juxtaposed with the palatial house in which she is held prisoner; whereas Robert's solitude is all the more intensified by it. However, each characters confinement directs them in opposite directions, Vera's prison is unlocked both literally and symbolically the moment that Robert kills his unknown half-brother Zeca, and inadvertently unlocks his own passion for Vera.

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