The 1997 film Carne trémula has been lauded within as well as outside of Spain as one of Pedro Almodóvar's best works. Critics on both sides of the Atlantic also have noted that this film marks a departure from Almodóvar's previous style, not only because of its tighter plotline and greater psychological depth, but also because Almodóvar's treatment of his material is more serious, less self-indulgent, and openly political. Russell Smith has suggested that the film's narrative coherence may be attributed in part to Almodóvar's use of Ruth Rendell's novel, Live Flesh (1998), as the basis for his script. This literary source's influence on the film also has been cited by Paul Julian Smith, who notes the strong similarities between the novel's first chapter and events which take place in Carne trémula (7). Almodóvar's departure from Rendell's plotline for the bulk of his film, however, has caused other critics to discount the importance of the novel entirely: José Arroyo says that Rendell's work "seems almost incidental" to Almodóvar's creation (51); Jean-Pierre Jeancolas calls Almodóvar's borrowing of Rendell's subject matter "a red herring" [une fausse piste] (52); and most film reviewers merely mention that Almodóvar's work is loosely based on Rendell's source.
Copyright Literature/Film Quarterly, used with permission.