'The Skin I Live In' will tease and entertain you through to the perverse end.
from Brighton, England
, 27 Aug 2011
Antonio Banderas is reunited with Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, who made him famous in his early films such as the hilarious 'Time Me Up, Time Me Down'. Banderas plays Robert Ledgard, a highely regarded but controversial cosmetic surgeon. Ledgard lives with his housekeeper Marilia (Marisa Paredes), and the mysterious Vera (Elena Anaya) who seems to be imprisoned, spending her days dressed in a skin-tone bodysuit.
Almodovar keeps you guessing right from the beginning, and Vera is the most intriguing, is she Ledgards patient, perhaps his daughter or even his wife? An intruder initiates a change in Ledgard and Vera's relationship. The story unfolds through numerous flashbacks involving Ledgard's daughter and Vicente, who both met at a party, establishing the nature of Ledgards actions to come.
Ledgard is haunted by his wife's severe burns following a car accident, he becomes obsessed with healing her, working day and night on skin tissue experiments. Ledgards obsession pushes him to experiment with transgenesis an illegal form of genetic engineering on humans.
Not only does the plot keep you guessing but you keep asking yourself 'is this a horror movie, a revenge thriller, a dark comedy or a suspense thriller?'. In fact it's all of these and much more.
The incredibly beautiful Anaya is a fantastic foil to Banderas, growing in her role and gaining greater significance and complexity as the film unravels, and it is she as Vera who defines the film. Banderas is a charismatic lead, every inch the Spanish Cary Grant, stylish and charming, but with an unnerving menace. You can even empathise with Banderas' humanistic portrayal of Ledgard, traumatised by his pain and loss. You do, until <em>that</em> moment!
Staple Almodovar themes of identity, flesh, sex and power are all present, but it's the quite ridiculous twist which completes this film. You soon realise this cruel joke has depth, and very real implications, not least the premise of the act of male aggression and penetration, sexual or otherwise.
There are several cinematic references and homages throughout this film but Almodovar still manages to make 'The Skin I Live In' all his own, this absurdly twisted psychological horror could not have been directed by anyone other than Almodovar.
Almodovar's films are renowned for their twists and absurdities, plus a healthy dollop of comedy and kitsch, but nothing as sinister and altogether bonkers as 'The Skin I Live In'. The brilliance of Almodovar is his ability to normalise the odd and the absurd, 'The Skin I Live In' will tease and entertain you through to the perverse end.
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