This Pedro Almodóvar melodrama examines how several lives are changed by a single gunshot. Adapting the novel Live Flesh by British mystery author Ruth Rendell, Almodóvar has given the material a Spanish makeover with added political thrust. Beginning in 1970 in Franco's Madrid, when a prostitute (Penelope Cruz) gives birth to a son, Victor, the story leaps forward to contemporary Madrid. Wealthy diplomat's daughter Elena (Francesca Neri) is watching Luis Buñuel's The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de La Cruz (1955) while waiting for the arrival of her heroin dealer, and she buzzes Victor (Liberto Rabal) (with whom she made a date, then forgot about him) into the building. In the confusion that follows, two cops, David (Javier Bardem) and Sancho (Jose Sancho) arrive, and a gun goes off. The story then makes another leap to four years later: Victor is in prison, while Elena, no longer on drugs, runs a disadvantaged children's shelter and is married to wheelchair-bound David. After his release, Victor visits his mother's grave and spots David and Elena at the cemetery -- where David meets philandering wife Clara (Angela Molina). Fate interweaves the tangled interrelationships of all into a complex tapestry of destiny and guilt. Shown at 1997 London and New York film festivals.
by Bhob Stewart synopsis