The Skin I Live In

3 out of 5 stars
The Skin I Live In

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

There's a single scene in Pedro Almodvar's latest---a plastic-surgery thriller---that fully supplies the queasy sense of shock you wish the movie had more of: A gorgeous woman in a skintight bodysuit runs with a butcher knife into a living room. The angle is high, almost like a Dario Argento horror film, and we see a big, red spot of color on the rug beneath her. The music throbs with hysteria. In pursuit is a mad-genius doctor (Banderas), who has no plans of letting her escape from his home. She threatens to turn the knife on herself; his eyes widen.

If you wish to learn the motivations behind such a moment, don't worry---they're all revealed in circuitous time, as is Almodvar's style. The problem is that the director's oblique way with a narrative makes for a blunted emotional impact, just when this tale needs it most. Of course the crazy pair are in love: a weird, twisted kind of love based on buried revenge and physical perfection. But you never feel the burn in The Skin I Live In, certainly not the way you do in an immortal shocker like Eyes Without a Face. It's almost as if Almodvar wanted to reach out into a gory genre, but couldn't do so without wearing prissy gloves.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

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