has the fastidiousness of Hannibal Lecter and the social grace of Norman Bates.
He has his faults, but his work is extremely dignified. He is Granada’s finest
tailor. He also cooks—people. However, the threadsmith may or may not try to
turn over a new leaf in Manuel Martín Cuenca’s Cannibal (trailer
on DVD today from Film Movement.
of the kitchen, Carlos definitely seems to have issues with women. We never
really learn how he reached this point, but the comments of his cranky old seamstress
suggest he was always a little off. We immediately see Carlos stalking his prey
and the almost sensual manner in which he goes about the butchery. He seems
comfortable with his predatory existence until two Romanian sisters throw him
off his game. Alexandra is the player and Nina is the plugger. When the former
moves into his apartment building, she first tries to use the resolutely
unseduced tailor to help build a clientele for her massage services. Soon
though, she is pulling him into a drama with her abusive boyfriend.
Alexandra disappears under mysterious circumstances, the earnest Nina comes
looking for her. Despite his better judgment, Carlos constantly offers her
small bits of assistance. Clearly, he feels an attraction to her, but is it
romantic or culinary?
question, this has to be the most restrained cannibal movie in the history of
the exploitation subgenre. There is no gore and precious little blood, but it
shows the savagery of human nature in no uncertain terms. Cuenca also revels in
the city’s ancient architecture and prominent Catholic trappings, using them as
an ironic counterpoint to Carlos’s unspeakably lurid deeds.
Cannibal will be a hard
film for man viewers to swallow, because it definitely invites sympathy for the
devil or at least prompts us to root for him to change his spots. There is a
lot of ambiguity, but arguably heinous sin will be its own punishment. Indeed,
Cuenca’s film is light-years removed from Cannibal
Apocalypse. In point of fact, it is shockingly refined and sophisticated,
featuring the truly elegant cinematography of Pau Esteve Birba. Throughout the
film, you can just feel the weight of Andalusian history and smell the humid
from a few stock figures here and there, Cannibal
is essentially a three-character two-hander, with Olimpia Melinte playing
both sisters. In each personas, she develops subtly hued, erotically charged
chemistry with Antonio de la Torre’s Carlos, who really supplies the bloody
guts and dark soul of the picture. Arguably, it is the best cinematic serial
killer performance since Anthony Perkins made the terribly under-appreciated Psycho sequels in the 980s, but de la
Torre did not have the benefit of Norman Bates’ somewhat sympathetic backstory.
is a strangely accomplished and deliberate film
that slowly builds into classical tragedy rather blood-splattered mayhem. Its
audience will fall within a narrow band of the cineaste spectrum, being too
refined for midnight movie fanatics and too transgressive for proper art-house
patrons. Recommended accordingly for adventurous and demanding viewers, Cannibal is now available on DVD from
Labels: Cannibalism on film, DVD, Spanish Cinema