Choice: Film

Live Flesh, on general release

Ruth Rendell hasn't had much luck on film. Claude Chabrol's La Ceremonie, based on her masterly novel A Judgement in Stone, almost made up for the crassness of an earlier version notable only for the performance of Rita Tushingham. That disappeared without trace, not a fate likely to befall this film. Rendell and Pedro Almodovar are unlikely bedfellows, but, strangely, they have a lot in common, ie portraits of men driven to extreme behaviour by sexual inadequacy, as in his 1986 film Matador. As Ryan Gilbey noted, "Live Flesh has a refinement and precision that contrasts sharply with the baroque excess of Matador. You might have put it down to the narrative conventions of the new film's source material, if Almodovar and his co-writer hadn't made alterations considerably more drastic than simply lugging the action abroad and ruling out Roy Marsden as the lead." So, faithfulness to the source material is out: cinematic is in.