Saturday, August 23, 2014


This 2001 film by Guillermo del Toro is a balancing act of sorts,  lyrically combining horror/gore, ghost story,  murder mystery,  and historical drama into a crucible of desire,  greed,  and hidden truths. The heart of this story is Carmen,  expressively portrayed by Marisa Paredes,  most noted for her work with Pedro Almodovar (THE FLOWER OF MY SECRET,  ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER,  THE SKIN I LIVE IN). Her work with the above-mentioned Spanish directors reminds one of Silvia Pinal's fine films with Luis Bunuel,  especially VIRIDIANA (1961),  another cinematic glimpse into the separation of reality and desire. Paredes plays Carmen,  a one-legged teacher at a wartime orphanage whose stern exterior masks  her erotic needs and fetishistic fulfillment. Her finely wrought faux leg holds another secret that is "opened up" near the film's conclusion. Paredes' acting throughout is marvelous,  a crippled body finding wholeness in gesture,  emotion,  furtive glances,  and intonation. 

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