17 April 2003 | dwingrove
Oblique and Tantalising!
As its title suggests, this is a deeply weird Pinter-esque emotional triangle - involving an insanely jealous husband, his gorgeous young wife and his carefree business partner. They spend much of the film in a car, driving through the arid Spanish landscape on their way to a deserted beach. Loyalties shift, identities blur... By the end, it is frankly impossible to say who has (or has not) done what to whom.
To make it doubly strange, Carlos Saura has shot this film in the most starkly realistic of styles. Its Spartan visuals, minimal music and sober black-and-white camerawork make us feel we are watching a documentary. This makes the ambiguity of the action even more bizarre and disturbing. When the husband sees (or imagines he sees) his partner making love to his wife, we are not watching a standard movie 'dream sequence.' We are witnessing madness itself. True madness, convinced that what it sees is reality!
Pushing this film still further into realms of delirium, Saura's subtle but chilling use of homoerotic, even sadomasochistic, imagery makes you wonder just WHO the husband is most possessive of. His wife or the other man? A langorous scene where he watches the younger man swimming. A fetishistic interlude with black leather and a motorbike. (Has Saura seen Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising?) Recurring visions of Saint Sebastian - the classic homoerotic saint, naked and pierced full of arrows. Strong stuff indeed for Spanish cinema under Franco.
It all adds up to one of Saura's most oblique and tantalising works... And Geraldine Chaplin looks particularly exquisite in her blonde wig!