What happens when you live the life of another?
Your Old selves begin to die out and you recreate a new world through the mind’s opaque corners. Harry Caine is one such man who designed something of a similar nature. But there is a catch to all this he was forced to do this because of his blindness.
The blindness he encounters becomes more of a destruction of his self. Just a little of his charm actually remains; traced on his face we see pictures of his past; scars of his images; broken down parts of his soul. Harry Caine was once the evergreen Mateo. Mateo Blanco was in awe of a millionaireâ€™s mistress Magdalena Rivero better known as just Lena. This affair takes its time to enter the story. Pedro has always called himself a bigamist of plot. So over here we see an immersion of that ideal. Both the men in Lenaâ€™s life are obsessed by her uncanny charm. There is a tribute laden in an interlude to a love scene with an image of Romy Schneider. She is a woman Pedro would have like to channel with Penelope through this film.
The simple affair turns sordid with a enchanting documentation of it by the millionaireâ€™s son Ernesto Martel Junior; through his eyes we see a very narrow vision of what the affair is about. Very little details are revealed with several innovative perspectives that seep into the narrative. The film seamlessly shifts from the present and the past with acute fluidity that is so Pedro. Yes this is a film for fans of his mastery; even though it might be one of the lesser of his works. But lesser is at times all we need to mirror our feelings.
There are quite a few similarities in the film with Pedroâ€™s earlier works. Sometimes it feels he is making the same film over again; turning some of the conventions over their heads. The shot of Martel throwing Lena down the stairs is shown with a heightened reality: We are not meant to judge any of the actions. Martel is played by Jose Luis Gomez who canâ€™t over the thought of loosing her to Mateo. His whole day is more of an obsession of attaining her for himself.
Pedro also plays to the sentiments of all the vampire movies coming out this season: a dialogue between Mateo and his writing partner Diego leads to a story regarding Vampires. The story makes you feel like it was there in the movie but it was just a story within another one. Pedro also employs many of the ideas he had thrown out in Bad Education by having a character speaking her lines while watching the scene muted on the projector: An effect that relishes the doppelganger elements of cinema.
There is also an ode to the time in which these films were taken; by placing horribly edited shots of a film that got unfortunately released; without the knowledge of the main protagonists: A careful study of filmmaking is regenerated with so much of the lost footage. We even have images that create spaces and times lost bringing in a lot of depth to each of the characters.
This film review will be irrelevant without a mention of what Penelope Cruz has given to this film. Penelope: An actress living the life of an absolute starlet; reverberating through each frame; touching the heart of cinema and making it her own. This film belongs to her in every respect: the epitome of all things bad to come. But it is the film that sort of fails her: A sorbet with a single scoop that will leaves you craving.