"Live Flesh" begins with Victor Plaza being born on a bus in Franco's Spain in 1970 and ends, twenty six years later, with... well, I wont spoil the ending; but typically with Almodovar, it is fitting and poetic. In between, we follow Victor on his journey into manhood, as he learns the hard way about disillusion, betrayal, love, lust, life, death, and tragedy.
As a young man, Victor believes that a one-off sexual encounter with a beautiful Italian junkie is something more than it is, and pesters her to such an extent that she draws a gun on him in order to get him to leave. A struggle ensues. The gun accidentally goes off, and although noone is hurt, it brings the unwelcome attention of two policemen. Another struggle ensues. Another shot is fired. One of the policemen is paralysed from the waist down. From then on, all four of their lives become tragically entwined; with deception and misunderstanding leading towards bitterness and envy. Inevitably, the lies are stripped away, unwanted truths are revealed, and all the various dilemmas are resolved amidst a scene of emotional and actual carnage.
This must sound like heady stuff, almost melodramatic? It is. This is Almodovar, after all. There is the usual complex plotting that reveals the strains that pull apart and bring together relationships while the emotional lives of the characters are laid bare. There is the relentless drive to resolve the emotional dilemmas while avoiding sentimentality. In short, there are all the usual touches that one expects from Almodovar, including the wonderful acting from the cast. Wonderful! A film that will draw you back again and again and again.