THE SKIN I LIVE IN (Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
Congratulations to Almodóvar for making the creepiest movie of the year.
Reunited with his former leading man, Antonio Banderas, for the first time in over 2 decades, the highly acclaimed Spanish film maker has fashioned a psychosexual thriller that unnerves more than it entertains.
Banderas portrays a noted plastic surgeon who is developing a synthetic skin that can be grafted on to burnvictims. In Banderas’ pristine mansion in Toledo, which is complete with a lavish laboratory, he has a young woman (Elena Anaya) held captive that only his housekeeper (Marisa Paredes) knows about.
As it unravels what’s behind this situation, the film is as twisted as it is twisty with such disturbing details as suicide, rape, and sex reassignment surgery coming to the fore. Also in the mix is the aptly sleazy Roberto Álamo slinking around in a leopard skin suit, and Blanca Suárezas Banderas’ mentally shaky daughter.
With all those eclectic elements, you’d think you’d have a potent brew of prime Almodóvar, but not only do they not blend, they clash with one another no matter how subtly well-acted and well made the film is.
THE SKIN I LIVE IN is gorgeously shot by longtime collaborator cinematographer José Luis Alcaine, so I’ll call it lusciously creepy, but extremely creepy all the same.
I really wasn’t getting what Almodóvar was going for here, and the anticlimactic ending doesn’t help his case. This is a depraved tale that makes no statement about obsession or the theft of somebody’s sexual identity or anything really.
It’s a cold unpleasant experience that never got anywhere close to getting under my skin (yes, I know, I’m not the only critic who will say something like that).