Netflixable? Scenic Spanish drama “The Skin of the Wolf” tests woman against mountain man


“The Skin of the Wolf” is a wilderness battle-of-wills set in the stunning heights of the Spanish Pyrenees, a fur-covered mountain man used to getting his way confronted by a woman who takes his measure.

It’s more striking to look at than riveting to follow. But if you ever doubted Europe has wilderness to rival America’s dazzling snow-capped peaks, wild waterfalls and unforgiving forests, it’s worth a look.

Martinón (Mario Cassas of “Witching and Bitching”) is the epitome of “The Natural Man.” Bearded, self-sufficient and solitary, he hunts, farms a little and keeps a mountainous Spanish village free from wolves in the Pyrenees of the late 19th century.

He knows his trades, and treats every transaction with the same, pitiless roughness.

The village owes him money? Maybe we can work something out. Maybe the miller’s daughter, who submits to his rugged, earthy “charms” on occasion, can be bought.

Pascuala (Ruth Diaz) barely has time to get used to the routine — firewood chopping, planting, cooking and being mounted like a wolf, with about as much romantic intent — when she announces she’s pregnant.  Martinón has little chance to soften his ways, as her pregnancy quickly leads to her death.


His grief burns into rage, and it’s as an aggrieved customer that he shows up at the grist mill, dragging her body in after him. He wants his money back or else.

The miller barely has time to quake, “What kind of animal ARE you,” (in Spanish, with English subtitles), when he comes up with an “or else.”

He has another daughter. And this time around, this daughter, Adela (Irene Escolar of “Finding Altamira”), isn’t all submissive and compliant. This rutting brute won’t be burying her out back, where Martinón left the holes he dug for Pascuala open before dragging her back to her father. Adela won’t give  him the chance to drag her corpse down the mountain for a refund.

Such movies inevitably fall under the spell of their location — every exterior a picture postcard, every interior a candlelit study in shadows, rustic furniture and the primitive life. That tends to gloss over the limitations of a spare, straightforward and emotionally barren script.

Cassas hides his good looks behind a beard and labored, bearish breathing. He keeps Martinón unsentimental, a killer who keeps just enough wolves alive to maintain his trade. Trapping, then and now, is a stone-hearted practice and Cassas lets us see how this man, trapped himself in a half-ruined farmstead in the life he both inherited and made for himself, has been shaped by his environment.

Escolar’s Adela has the burden of turning the audience toward her and against Martinón, and while we may root for her, we don’t root that hard. The script doesn’t give her that chance.

Which is a lot of typing on my part to come around to saying, “Too little happens” for “The Skin of the Wolf” to pay off.


MPAA Rating: unrated, with lots of rough sex, hunting violence

Cast: Mario Cassas, Irene Escolar, Ruth Diaz

Credits: Written and directed by Samu Fuentes. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:52

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Netflixable? Scenic Spanish drama “The Skin of the Wolf” tests woman against mountain man

  1. John Coldewaters says:

    You gloss over the part [redacted because the commentor does not understand the concept of “spoiler alert”}. Perhaps the scope of the film is too complex for the revewier to grasp fully.

    • You missed the point entirely. The issues you state give away far too much plot, but also explain the younger sister’s fears and fury about what happened to her sibling. I “get” it. It’s your “grasp” that isn’t quite on the nose.

  2. Someone says:

    Who ever wrote this garbage review really has no conception of what this movie portrayed.

    This film is very gripping, the plot underlines deceit, betrayal, and how the cure loneliness can cost more than you know.

  3. Woodworm says:

    He understood who was in the end. It took a young woman to figure out how to do it. But he was smart enough in the end to realize how she did it. He was a kind man understanding himself!!! but did not know how to be with others. He was perfect for this lifestyle. Sad that he knew it was over for him. He learned in the end to just let it all go. His beautiful wife and the sheep. The latter was interesting. His wife was set free my him of course. She too realized she may have made a mistake. Since of course. He saved her life from death. But it was too late. Excellent story!!!!

    • Try this on for size. He impregnated her. Then took dead damaged goods back to her dad. Enraged the sister, who saw the open graves the a-hole dug for them. Blew your mind, didn’t I?

      • Julz says:

        She was sick and pregnant before he even married her. He gave her skins for the romp on the ladder so she was a whore. He was enraged because her father knew her condition and let her marry him and go up there anyway just to save his reputation, knowing it would kill her. The mountain man told the sister but she didn’t believe him. She thought the world of her dad, who tossed her to the wolves to save his own skin and didn’t even ask about her when he had a chance to check on her. Didn’t you actually watch the movie?

      • Didn’t you? Go back and watch it again. There’s more than one way to read it, the pregnancy as explained by the father as told to him by the “sick” daughter is just one. The sister’s reaction drives what I see in it. His actions once he realizes what the second sister is doing fit that interpretation as well. He knows he has it coming. Your sympathies for the “wronged” loner/wolf killer in some “buyer beware” outrage are misguided and regressive. Middling movie, cryptic or otherwise.

  4. The French have “Jean de Florette “, The Italians have “IL Postino ” The Irish have ” The Field “.
    ” The Skin of The Wolf ” surpasses them all.

    • The hirsute star has his fanbase. They’re not discerning in the least, but he’s got that going for him. And proof positive that being able to cite classic films doesn’t mean you have a grasp of how they stand against an inferior, dumped on Netflix time killer. Yeah, we can have a difference of opinion, but when you crossover into blasphemy, you’re going to get ridiculed.

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