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“The Skin I Live In” [“La piel que habito”] – Review (POSITIVE)

January 7, 2012

Anyone interested in seeing a movie with Antonio Banderas? Of course you do! Now, how about seeing him in a movie where he plays a mad scientist hell-bent on a crazed psychosexual craving of his greatest creation? Interesting right? Pedro Almodóvar reunites with Banderas, directing him in this modern day Frankenstein story. The end results will leave your skin tingling.

A brilliant plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Ledgard (Banderas) is haunted by past tragedies, while in the midst of perfecting a synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and unpredictable woman simply named Vera (Elena Anaya), holds the key to his obsession. The beginning drive for Ledgard’s obsession began when his late wife died in a flaming car accident. Ever since then he wanted to right the wrongs by developing this distinctive skin. As he gets closer to perfecting this skin on his flawless patient, the scientific community starts growing skeptical and worrisome. His wife’s unfortunate death was just the first tragedy, the second was the  one that sent him down the most disturbing rabbit hole imaginable.

This is a hard movie to review, because the first hour of the films starts out very calm and not as out of the ordinary, well I shouldn’t say that, there’s some fucked up shit going on in the first hour. It’s the second hour when the plot is ultimately revealed, and I don’t want to reveal that, because it’s very…lack of a better word messed up. I can’t emphasize enough that this story is approached in a very Frankenstein sense. You’ve got the creator and the creation, what could possibly go wrong? That’s as far as I will go.

This is my third Almodóvar movie I’ve seen, previously watch “Broken Embraces” & “Volver”, I do plan on watching more of his films in the near future. However, I noticed that this movie does lack some of the stimulating romance those two films had, and replaced it with a bizarre and unpredictable detour of art house disgust. It’s a new turn for him, I approve of that. I like it when directors explore new territories.

Almodóvar knows exactly how to bring out the best in his actors. I haven’t seen Banderas this raw and strange in a movie in such a long time. There’s a lot of steady competition coming out this Oscar season, I’d much prefer seeing Banderas getting a Best Actor nod, perhaps even a win. Banderas has this sort of charm in all the movies he’s in, and it’s present here too, but he does so much more here. He embraces his inner creepy. Damn was he creepy in this movie.

The movie as a whole was finely tuned and well constructed as psychosexual horror film. Trust me, it doesn’t get anymore horrifying than what this mad scientist does. The climax is a bit anti-climactic, but before that, the build is extremely strong. People will surely be talking by the time the credits role.

The screening I attended was filled with nothing but geriatrics, so you can imagine what they were complaining about; sex, nudity, disturbing nature of the character, a deviant director, etc. Makes me laugh that old people of today cannot see in between the lines. All they think they’re seeing is a snuff film, when in actuality it’s art…with some graphic sexual content, but it serves the purpose to tell the story!

GRADE: B+

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