Banderas, Almodovar reunite in Cannes hit

19th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Antonio Banderas said he was thrilled to reunite with Spanish director Pedro Almodovar after two decades in the Cannes contender "The Skin I Live In", which was warmly applauded Thursday.

Banderas plays a surgeon who takes a perverse form of revenge on the man he believes raped his daughter in the picture, one of 20 films vying for the festival's coveted Palme d'Or to be awarded on Sunday.

It brings Almodovar and Banderas together for the first time since 1990's "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!", a pitch-black comedy which launched their international careers.

Now a Hollywood star, the 50-year-old Banderas said he had longed to return to Spanish film-making, if only temporarily.

"Coming back to Pedro Almodovar is a form of recognition, of gratitude because he occupies a special place in my life. He gave me my artistic education," he told reporters.

"Almodovar was the beginning of my film career and coming back is a kind of homecoming -- coming back to my own roots, my own country, with all its strong points and weak points and contradictions."

The film features Banderas as a kind of mad scientist living in Toledo with an older woman, apparently his housekeeper, and a younger woman held captive in his villa and monitored round the clock on camera.

She wears a skin-coloured suit and it gradually emerges that she is a Frankenstein-like creation by the doctor, who has used genetic engineering to recreate a mirror image of his dead wife.

But to build a new spouse, he required a human specimen to transform so he kidnapped a man he believes raped his teenage daughter years before at a wedding, driving her to suicide.

His victim, Vincente, is subjected to a forced sex change operation and Banderas' character remoulds his body using tissue he harvests from pigs to create "Vera".

Although the months-long procedure is a medical success, the doctor fails to break Vera's will in his custom-built prison, leading to a deadly confrontation.

Almodovar, 61, bringing his fourth feature to Cannes, said he was ready for a new genre after melodramas such as "Broken Embraces" starring his frequent muse Penelope Cruz.

"I'm currently in a thriller time of my life," he said.

"But in a thriller you can touch on all kinds of other genres. I don't think you have stick rigidly to the rules of a genre. But thrillers are indeed my favorite kind of film right now and I'll probably make more."

Almodovar said he was drawn to the material because advances in genetic research were leading society down a potentially frightening path.

"I don't believe my film is fantastical or science fiction because these kinds of experiments are going on today," he said.

"We know that science will transform human beings. It is leading us into the unknown. In the future, human beings may be completely different because we will be able to choose a specific trait before a child is even born.

"It is moving forward fast, and leading us to a kind of abyss where no one knows where we will end up."

Almodovar called the storyline, based on Thierry Jonquet's novel "Mygale", "a tale of survival under extreme circumstances".

"That, of course, is the issue facing all of humanity," he said.

Almodovar, who won the best screenplay prize at Cannes in 2006 for "Volver" and best director in 1999 for "All About My Mother", said he saw certain parallels between his modern Dr Frankenstein and the job of a film-maker.

"Being a director is a little like playing God," he said.

"We have a set of actors who can embody the images we have in our imaginations. That's what I like doing."

© 2011 AFP

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