Second Skin

(Segunda Piel)

Although there are many movies centering around gay relationships these days, few if any have the focus of Second Skin, which examines the struggle one man has between his homosexuality and his heterosexuality. Alberto (Jordi Molla, Blow, Nobody Knows Anybody) is the man caught between two worlds, and it is tearing him apart. Director Gerardo Vera (La Celestina, Borges Tales Part I) takes the time to show his public and hidden life as well as the effects on the people around him. His issues not only bother him, but seriously affect the lives of his wife and his lover. What Vera does not do is suitably explore the minds of all three principals.

Elena (Ariadna Gil, Jet Set, Masterpiece) is Alberto's wife, and she knows that something is wrong. They do not make love as often as possible, and Alberto is staying late at work. She feels ignored, and when she discovers that Alberto is seeing somebody else (who she thinks is a woman) she feels betrayed. Diego (Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls, Washington Wolves) is Alberto's lover. He also feels used. Alberto refuses to open himself emotionally to Diego. It's as if Diego is just a means for Alberto to relieve tension. The more confused Alberto becomes, the tenser his relations become with both his wife and his lover. Instead of opening to one or both of them, he withdraws to within himself, and manages to further estrange Elena and Diego.

Alberto, as written by Angeles Gonzalez Sinde (Black Tears, Lucky Star) refuses to open to anybody, which is a problem for the audience. Much of what is going on inside his head never reveals itself in the movie. Worse, Second Skin is guilty of plodding along, nearing the point of tedium. Alberto is a whiner, and watching him begins to become annoying. Especially since there are two people he has who love him dearly and are willing to do what it takes to help him. Sinde and Vera do a much better job of showing how Elena handles the revelation. They take the time to explore her reaction and how it changes the way she goes about her life. They are not as successful with the Diego character, mainly because they just never seem to know quite what to do with him. Molla, Bardem and Gil all give decent performances. If only they had more to work with.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 40 minutes, Spanish with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains nudity, language, and sexual situations, an easy R, possibly NC-17.

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