Pedro Almodóvar, The Skin I Live In, 2011, still from a color film in 35 mm.


L’AFFAIRE DSK has now been supplanted by le scandale LVT. After Lars von Trier’s Nazi remarks yesterday at the press conference for Melancholia, Cannes officials released a two-paragraph statement, which concludes, “The Festival is adamant that it would never allow the event to become the forum for such pronouncements on such subjects.” Von Trier himself issued the following mea culpa: “If I have hurt someone this morning by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize. I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi.” The filmmaker’s words of regret, however, weren’t enough to restore a celebratory mood; according to the New York Times, both the cast dinner and beachfront afterparty for Melancholia were canceled. Rumors are now circulating that the director’s gaffes may have irrevocably harmed his film’s chances for winning the Palme d’Or (that, and the fact that it may be von Trier’s least thought-out film); just minutes ago it was announced that von Trier has been declared “persona non grata” by the festival.
 
A much cuddlier provocateur, festival regular Pedro Almodóvar is in Competition with The Skin I Live In; the middlebrow auteur is so beloved that his name in the opening credits alone prompted wild applause at the Lumičre this morning (a screening from which I was nearly shut out). Based on Thierry Jonquet’s 1995 novel Tarantula, Almodóvar’s latest reunites him for the first time in twenty-one years with Antonio Banderas, who plays Robert Ledgard, a plastic surgeon who goes to extremes to punish the man who raped his mentally fragile daughter. Almodóvar has described his film as “a horror story without screams or frights”; I’d add without risk or intelligence. To reveal how Ledgard avenges his daughter would spoil the film’s major “outré” plot thread. Let’s just say that the jurors for the Queer Palm, for which The Skin I Live In is a contender, will find that it follows—to the letter—the criterion of “disturbing the genders’ established codes.”

 
 

Melissa Anderson