Second Skin

Pillow talk. Diego and Alberto (Bardem and Molla) before the confusion really sets in...
aka Segunda Piel
dir Gerardo Vera; scr Angeles Gonzales-Sinde
with Javier Bardem, Jordi Molla, Cecilia Roth, Ariadna Gil, Javier Albala, Adrian Sac, Mercedes Sampietro
99/Spain 2 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Starting with a typical nightmare scenario (woman finds hotel receipt in husband's pocket), Second Skin examines stresses and strains within a marriage, combined with issues of sexuality and self-image. It's a difficult film, very well-made and acted, but not easy to really identify with. Alberto (Molla) is the husband in question, and it's not another woman here, but another man, Diego (Bardem). But he's lying to everyone--and most notably himself--by never admitting the truth about who he is or how he's feeling. As a result, Diego has no idea why Alberto is being so standoffish. And his best friend/colleague (the wonderful Roth) can't help either. Soon though, things begin to come out in the open ... and everyone but Alberto seems prepared to deal with them.

Very cleverly directed, with warm, lush cinematography, the film looks fantastic. And the cast superbly gets under the characters' skin, bringing out detail and subtlety that make it quite fascinating, in a cautionary sort of way. Molla plays the central role bravely, but never gives us a nice side to latch onto. This makes the film increasingly serious and melodramatic, as Alberto's web of poorly constructed lies catches up with him and throws his whole life into question. Hard to feel sorry for him, really! So no matter how interesting or sympathetic everyone else is, there's nothing at the centre for us to latch on to.

[strong adult themes and situations, language, nudity] 10.Apr.00 llgff
UK release 2.Feb.01

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"I have just came back from the cinema, and my only comment is that Segunda Piel is one of those films which make the viewer think about the complexity of human relations. The fact of the homosexual second relationship of the main character is somehow irrelevant. The film should work pretty similar if the infedelity of Alberto were of a heterosexual nature. It is more about human reactions than about one or other kind of sexuality. technically I think it's perfect and the casting really good. I recommend it." --Luis Cebrian-Eroles, net.

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall