Grandinetti, last seen stateside in Paolo Agazzi's "The Day Silence Died," gives a great performance, looking handsome--even with his receding hairline--and giving Marco a husky melancholy as attractive as it is restrained. Camara, too, does a good job playing the lonely, confused Benigno, much less appealing than his new friend, and who eventually crosses a line and suffers greatly for his transgression. It's a testament to Almodovar's skill that Benigno's moment of weakness, while unpardonable, can be seen with the proper sympathy and complexity, instead of too easily labeled merely antisocial or criminal.
And if Dover Koshashvili's recently released "Late Marriage" has what is considered one of the most realistic sex scenes in movies, Almodovar's latest contains one of the most surreal. Staged as a silent film, the scene, which manages to be intensely beautiful and extremely shocking simultaneously, features a miniaturized man's excursion on, around and eventually inside the body of his sleeping wife, who manages to have a climax in the process. It's an incredible and jarring vision, and one that examines both what might be considered man's most primal urge--sexual desire--and his most Freudian: the longing to return to the comfort of the womb. Needless to say, it's not for the conservative viewer and will likely ruffle a few feathers, but it remains the most memorable and profound portion of an already thoughtful, intelligent film. Starring Javier Camara, Dario Grandinetti, Leonor Watling and Rosario Flores. Directed and written by Pedro Almodovar. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Spanish-language; subtitled. Rated R for nudity, sexual content and some language. Running time: 112 min