The Skin I Live In (15)

Film

Thrillers

The Skin I Live In.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Tue Aug 23 2011

Pedro Almodóvar again reveals his genius for turning the ridiculous into the sublime with this creepy skin flick – a melodramatic thriller that is sombre but never sober and that moves through time and space with much of the boldness and style we’ve come to expect from Spain’s leading director, even if it doesn’t have the overall sense of unity and authorial command of the likes of ‘Volver’ or ‘Talk to Her’. Almodóvar’s ambition sometimes overtakes his writing, and at points his storytelling tends towards being more knotty than ever. It’s also a film that’s more interesting in its unveiling than conclusion, and the last 20 minutes feel a little underwhelming and pedestrian compared to what’s come before. Mostly, though, this is a wonderfully strange, oddly sexy and attractively perverse mystery.

‘The Skin I Live in’ also reunites Almodóvar with Antonio Banderas, who puts in a charismatic turn as a tragic figure touched by evil. The last time Banderas worked with Almodóvar was for ‘Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!’ in 1990. Twenty-one years later, they’re back together for an adaptation of Thierry Jonquet’s French novel ‘Mygale’ (‘Tarantula’ in English translation), the story of a plastic surgeon, Dr Robert Ledgard (Banderas), whose skills with the knife allow him to take control of a messy personal life in ways unimaginable to anyone but him. Banderas puts in a commanding performance in a film whose thriller tendencies are made doubly interesting by also being an artful study of masks and identities, sex and flesh, bodies and power.

The less said about the story, the better, as it’s built on slow revelations and quick surprises. ‘The Skin I Live in’ is rooted in pain and loss, which pulls the film’s melodramatic side into a more thoughtful, provocative place than its surface suggests. It opens in Toledo in 2012, and Robert is a successful surgeon who lectures on the possibilities of genetic skin transformation and transplants.

At his stylish villa, he lives with a loyal housekeeper, Marilia (Marisa Paredes), and locked in a room at the top, being observed from elsewhere on screens, is a beautiful young woman, Vera (Elena Anaya), who we first meet dressed up to her neck in a tight, flesh-coloured body suit Vera’s strange presence is both compelling and alienating, and she’s a mystery that the film takes its full length to solve. We learn that Robert’s wife was disfigured in a car crash several years earlier and killed herself, and that he lost a daughter, Norma (Blanca Suárez), too. A flashback to six years earlier reveals what happened to Norma and begins to explain why Vera is now a prisoner in Robert’s home…

After ‘Broken Embraces’, ‘The Skin I Live in’ extends Almodóvar’s journey into dark, oppressive storytelling and more upscale and interior worlds. He chills his palette, rejecting the bright colours of old for something more maudlin and steely. There are flashes of humour, usually of the nervous kind. Mostly, though, this plays as a psychosexual thriller whose wild events are anchored soberly in Almodóvar’s meticulous direction and a performance from Banderas that swerves the more maniacal aspects of his character to offer an intensely controlled, deadly and charming screen presence.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Aug 26, 2011

Duration:

120 mins

Cast and crew

Cast:

Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes

Director:

Pedro Almodóvar

Screenwriter:

Pedro Almodóvar

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5
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Ivette Fred

Almodóvar seems to be saying that even if we want to reconstruct our genitalia, change our body, or just play with genres, even when Vicente caresses the mannequin in the window of his mother's shop, this does not mean that Robert is justified in operating him without his consent. Remember that Robert was mad and sought revenge for the "rape" and death of his daughter. He wanted to castrate Vincent. He feels physically attracted to him later because he has made Vincent in the image and likeness of his former wife, and Vera knows and plays with it (the theme of female identity constructed by male standards is treated brilliantly by Hitchcock in his film ‘Vertigo’, although the same actress plays the two main female roles). Robert lectured that the body and face are marks of individual identity. The body I have, who I want to be, or appear to be, are matters of extreme personal choice. It is true that Vincent was bored with his life in Toledo (of all places, my God!). Now he got an interesting life. I think, after having avenged, he will remain Vera. It is his choice now.

Ivette Fred

Almodóvar seems to be saying that even if we want to reconstruct our genitalia, change our body, or just play with genres, even when Vicente caresses the mannequin in the window of his mother's shop, this does not mean that Robert is justified in operating him without his consent. Remember that Robert was mad and sought revenge for the "rape" and death of his daughter. He wanted to castrate Vincent. He feels physically attracted to him later because he has made Vincent in the image and likeness of his former wife, and Vera knows and plays with it (the theme of female identity constructed by male standards is treated brilliantly by Hitchcock in his film ‘Vertigo’, although the same actress plays the two main female roles). Robert lectured that the body and face are marks of individual identity. The body I have, who I want to be, or appear to be, are matters of extreme personal choice. It is true that Vincent was bored with his life in Toledo (of all places, my God!). Now he got an interesting life. I think, after having avenged, he will remain Vera. It is his choice now.

Britney

What a creative genius. Such a sophisticated film. I do not understand however how she kept that dress for so long that she wore in the last scene. Nevertheless, it was truely an amazing but yet dark and twisted film.

Britney

What a creative genius. Such a sophisticated film. I do not understand however how she kept that dress for so long that she wore in the last scene. Nevertheless, it was truely an amazing but yet dark and twisted film.

francico lopes

I think it was good, but not one of the best Almodóvar movies. Elena Anaya is wonderful. But there´s a flaw I haven´t seen mentioned here: would a villain like the doctor be so naive that he´d not realize that he could be killed by the...one he´s in love with? The screenplay has this weakness. Sorry, but the movie deserves to be seen, anyhow.

francico lopes

I think it was good, but not one of the best Almodóvar movies. Elena Anaya is wonderful. But there´s a flaw I haven´t seen mentioned here: would a villain like the doctor be so naive that he´d not realize that he could be killed by the...one he´s in love with? The screenplay has this weakness. Sorry, but the movie deserves to be seen, anyhow.

stevhors

Strange and absurd storyline in this film which made little effort to help us believe in it, and to my mind it played out very much like a B movie and without the subtlety and sophistication I was expecting from such a director. Some scenes technically poor and stagey. An OK evening I suppose but I don't think it ever attempts to engage the audience and doesn't merit the 4 stars that Timeout gave it.

stevhors

Strange and absurd storyline in this film which made little effort to help us believe in it, and to my mind it played out very much like a B movie and without the subtlety and sophistication I was expecting from such a director. Some scenes technically poor and stagey. An OK evening I suppose but I don't think it ever attempts to engage the audience and doesn't merit the 4 stars that Timeout gave it.

Mike

To my mind, Almodóvar’s best yet. Sinister, absorbing, shocking, distinctly pervy, and beautifully shot. Flawlessly acted. A very good story. 4 stars.

Mike

To my mind, Almodóvar’s best yet. Sinister, absorbing, shocking, distinctly pervy, and beautifully shot. Flawlessly acted. A very good story. 4 stars.

villardi

What a strange, decadent perverted and wild movie. Imaginative, stunning visually, extremely sexy and totally whacky story. When I saw it five people walkled out inside half an hour. I like a movie that can do that to people. i didn;t walk out and enjoyed the film a lot. And as for Elena Anaya, she makes Penelope Cruz look like Hilda Ogden, what a babe.

villardi

What a strange, decadent perverted and wild movie. Imaginative, stunning visually, extremely sexy and totally whacky story. When I saw it five people walkled out inside half an hour. I like a movie that can do that to people. i didn;t walk out and enjoyed the film a lot. And as for Elena Anaya, she makes Penelope Cruz look like Hilda Ogden, what a babe.

Mark

Very good, though I don't feel he deals with certain aspects of what he's trying to portray fully and despite the fact that I felt I'd seen a strong, satisfying film I felt afterwards that something hadn't been fully realised and there were thematic problems not addressed. I strongly recommend that you go along to this knowing as little as possible about the story beforehand, it'll be worth it.

Mark

Very good, though I don't feel he deals with certain aspects of what he's trying to portray fully and despite the fact that I felt I'd seen a strong, satisfying film I felt afterwards that something hadn't been fully realised and there were thematic problems not addressed. I strongly recommend that you go along to this knowing as little as possible about the story beforehand, it'll be worth it.

Mark

I like ARCHGATE's comparison of the lack of emotion in the film to a hypodermic needle - very apt. But reviewers here and in the Guardian have given it a lot of stars. Is this a film critic's film ? I felt cheated and empty at the end - I think Almodovar has had it. Like Woody Allen, that was just one repetion of a once intereting idea too many. Sorry, tio, hasta la vista it is from me. I'll stick to the DVDs from now on.

Mark

I like ARCHGATE's comparison of the lack of emotion in the film to a hypodermic needle - very apt. But reviewers here and in the Guardian have given it a lot of stars. Is this a film critic's film ? I felt cheated and empty at the end - I think Almodovar has had it. Like Woody Allen, that was just one repetion of a once intereting idea too many. Sorry, tio, hasta la vista it is from me. I'll stick to the DVDs from now on.

Raimunda

I really enjoyed this film with its many ups and few downs. The cladding is superb as is the soundtrack and the acting. The story is risky and bizarre. Precisely the kind of story you expect from his director.

Raimunda

I really enjoyed this film with its many ups and few downs. The cladding is superb as is the soundtrack and the acting. The story is risky and bizarre. Precisely the kind of story you expect from his director.

Sutton

I found this hard to watch in places, when I found myself crossing my legs in places! The film is well acted and stylishly shot. As with most Almodovar films, I go hoping to like them, but come away with a sense of disappointment. It is an interesting film and worth seeing, unfortunately, I did not enjoy it.

Sutton

I found this hard to watch in places, when I found myself crossing my legs in places! The film is well acted and stylishly shot. As with most Almodovar films, I go hoping to like them, but come away with a sense of disappointment. It is an interesting film and worth seeing, unfortunately, I did not enjoy it.

josco

I have enjoyed most of Almodovar films, and I found this one interesting, quirky and well acted, it caused good conversation at the dinner table with firiends....a breath of fresh air for adults

josco

I have enjoyed most of Almodovar films, and I found this one interesting, quirky and well acted, it caused good conversation at the dinner table with firiends....a breath of fresh air for adults

Numpty

Wow! What a beautiful, crazy, stylish film! It was cold, distant, calculating and cynical. Everything Almondovar set out portray. He finally strips a film down to exploitation cinema, without trying to dress it up in his usual 'tranny-tart-with-a-heart' cover story, or some such nonsense. No 'discovering inner beauty through hugging and weeping whilst discussing childhood'. Good. One of his best films (I am a fan!) Freudian archetypes anyone?!

Numpty

Wow! What a beautiful, crazy, stylish film! It was cold, distant, calculating and cynical. Everything Almondovar set out portray. He finally strips a film down to exploitation cinema, without trying to dress it up in his usual 'tranny-tart-with-a-heart' cover story, or some such nonsense. No 'discovering inner beauty through hugging and weeping whilst discussing childhood'. Good. One of his best films (I am a fan!) Freudian archetypes anyone?!

Paul

An entertaining film superbly directed and presented showing my Almodóvar is a master of his art, even the noisy popcorn eaters quickly settled down into the film. A visual feast but I would have preferred the trailers not to have touched on so many aspects of the story. The music really added to the film and drama. If you like Almodóvar it's a must see and the imagery will endure afterwards

Paul

An entertaining film superbly directed and presented showing my Almodóvar is a master of his art, even the noisy popcorn eaters quickly settled down into the film. A visual feast but I would have preferred the trailers not to have touched on so many aspects of the story. The music really added to the film and drama. If you like Almodóvar it's a must see and the imagery will endure afterwards

Gropes

The film is monotonous and does not engage. The 'twist' is already given away half way. Very bad.

Gropes

The film is monotonous and does not engage. The 'twist' is already given away half way. Very bad.

david glowacki

It's all there the amazing visuals,the stunning use of colour and that heighten sense of drama.Great close up shots of inanimate objects..Here the influence of Hitchcock is much in evidence as well a strong visuals borrowed from Dali.So is it any good? Well, it has much to recommend the film,but the film is strangely emotionally cold..There are no emotionally connections between the characters,instead they are presented to us beautiful,yet stone cold sub-humans.l watched it absorbed yet departed unfulfilled.It is this emotional neutrality that makes this inferior to some of his other previous offerings. Aldomovar,for a gay man certainly understands how to give a big erotic charge to hetrosexual love..Essentially Aldomovar is a modern day Hitchcock and that in itself must surely make him one the very best directors in the film industry

david glowacki

It's all there the amazing visuals,the stunning use of colour and that heighten sense of drama.Great close up shots of inanimate objects..Here the influence of Hitchcock is much in evidence as well a strong visuals borrowed from Dali.So is it any good? Well, it has much to recommend the film,but the film is strangely emotionally cold..There are no emotionally connections between the characters,instead they are presented to us beautiful,yet stone cold sub-humans.l watched it absorbed yet departed unfulfilled.It is this emotional neutrality that makes this inferior to some of his other previous offerings. Aldomovar,for a gay man certainly understands how to give a big erotic charge to hetrosexual love..Essentially Aldomovar is a modern day Hitchcock and that in itself must surely make him one the very best directors in the film industry

Phil Ince

Oh. Sluggish pace. Mechanically story-telling. Cruel. Again, the subtitles? Is the spoken Spanish really as trite and as "tell don't show" as translation? There's a deep story developing as the film closes but the one Almodovar tells is essentially "Frankenstein meets The Mummy". Quite crude.

Phil Ince

Oh. Sluggish pace. Mechanically story-telling. Cruel. Again, the subtitles? Is the spoken Spanish really as trite and as "tell don't show" as translation? There's a deep story developing as the film closes but the one Almodovar tells is essentially "Frankenstein meets The Mummy". Quite crude.

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