Second Skin (Segunda Siel)

Ladymol's Review

Some movies you can sense are going to be good before they even start. The title sequence in this movie was so haunting and sophisticated that you just know something very special is about to follow. This movie is one of the best Iíve seen so far, despite ripping my heart out and pulling every emotional string.

Alberto is married to the gorgeous Elena and has a lovely young son. Elena is one of the most sympathetic women weíve seen in these movies, and in some ways, the story is not so much a gay one, but about destruction of trust, regardless of the gender of the lovers. Alberto is having an affair with Diego, and itís almost coincidental that Diego is male: heís breaking up Elenaís family.

Gradually, sympathies in this film shift, and itís credit to the amazing acting of the three lead characters that we are drawn to subtly into their painful triangle without making crass judgements about what is right and wrong.

Alberto is in such pain, you canít blame him for what he does to both Elena and Diego: both equal victims of his inability to confront what he is. As Diego says to Elena: heís always running away. But who is ultimately the greatest victim? Alberto, of course. He is a man in torment and his lies creep around him, binding him and ultimately suffocating him.

For once, the gay sex in the movie is more intense than the het, and itís very, very hot. Javier Bardem (Before Night Falls) and Jordi Molla really do appear to be intensely in love. When theyíre alone, theyíre constantly touching and flirting and spark with energy. When theyíre in public, and canít touch, their passion zings between them.

I canít recommend this movie too highly if you like sophisticated, superbly acted movies with dense, intricate dialogue.

Cerisaye's Review

This Spanish film angered and disappointed me.† Despite having the most erotic m/m sex scene Iíve seen in a mainstream movie.† Javier Bardem and Jordi Molla give outstanding performances totally let down by underlying homophobia.† And an ending straight from the worst kind of soap.† A real cop out.†

Iím not sure who the film was made for.† Itís not exactly gay friendly. †The most sympathetic character is Elena, a married woman whose husband Alberto (Molla) canít decide between wife & son or Diego, the hunky surgeon (Bardem) with whom heís having a passionate affair.† Yet the graphic gay sex is probably too much for many straight viewers, especially men.† It appears to say that itís better to live a lie than embrace your true sexuality.

None of the characters is developed properly.† We watch as they react to increasingly desperate circumstances without knowing them well enough to understand why they behave as they do.† Our emotions are engaged not by good writing but the actorsí ability to convey depth and emotion.

Alberto appears to have it all:† beautiful wife, good job, nice house, well behaved son.† When Elena discovers hotel receipts in his pocket, she has no idea heís been sleeping with another man.† I donít think she was too surprised heíd been unfaithful.† Thereís tension between them and emotional distance even before she confronts him.† One positive aspect of the film was how after initial disgust Elena gradually learns to understand and support Alberto, accepting better than he does that he canít change what he is.

I expected Alberto to acknowledge his feelings and come to terms with his desire for men.† Thatís not what happens.† Alberto thinks he can keep happy family and attentive lover.† He lies to them, and to himself.† Diego, an underdeveloped character, has no idea about Albertoís other life.† Alberto comes across as a selfish prick, indecisive and weak, more than a man tormented by his need for men.† He says heís been conforming to other peopleís expectations all his life but heís too afraid to do anything about it, even though heís got Diego there for him, everything a man could want.

Alberto hurts everyone he says he loves.† Goodness knows what Diego sees in him because he treats him appallingly.† Diego gets nothing from the relationship but hot sex when Alberto can spare him a visit.† Maybe Diego has issues of his own.† He could have anyone he wants yet chooses the role of Albertoís mistress, putting his career on the line.† Heís obsessed I suppose, takes what he gets gratefully.† Watch the sex scene where he whimpers as Alberto slams into him.† Alberto turns up when the hunger gets too much, then heís up and off almost immediately.† Yet they have such amazing chemistry you accept theyíre a couple.† Bardem is incredible.† Heís macho, but can show vulnerability, really wears his heart on his sleeve.† I wish weíd seen more Diego and less Elena.

I thought we were beyond the days when gay stories were required to have unhappy endings simply because the characters are men in love with each other.† This film shows incredible passion between Molla & Bardem then betrays that, giving the impression neither deserves happiness because they reject the hetero norm of procreative sex.† Alberto falls apart as soon as he moves out, as though he only wants sex from Diego and everything else came from his family.† To compound matters, Diego and Elena make a stronger emotional connection based on loving the same man.†

I donít need a happy ever after, though itís nice.† I liked Leaving Metropolis, where the straight man was on a road to self-acceptance, offering hope and purpose.† Iíd have settled for that here, as Alberto doesnít deserve Diego.† However this film goes for melodrama that had me shouting at the screen.† And yet, thereís that hot sex, and Bardem & Molla really are yummy, so itís worth watching, just be warned itís not what it seems. (Spanish with English subtitles)