The Skin I Live In (aka La piel que habito) review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
World-renown Spanish Director Pedro Almodovar reunites with his ‘Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!’ collaborator Antonio Banderas in noir-ish psychosexual thriller of Frankenstein proportions in ‘The Skin I Live In’, where everything is not what it seems and what you see, you may or may not regret.
Antonio Banderas plays Dr. Robert Ledgard, an expert plastic surgeon who is obsessed in creating a new age, super-synthetic skin viable to transplant and graft on a live human being. Unlike regular skin, Ledgard’s creation won’t burn. It’s a twisted and dangerous science experiment, especially upon seeing that it is currently being tested on a woman named Vera (Elena Anaya) who lives in his opulent estate. Within the confines of Ledgard’s care/torture, Vera is a mysterious guinea pig and upon closer inspection, may even be too willing and able for it. She and the doctor have a perverse relationship and you’re soon quick to realize, that there’s a more sinister ulterior motive here and it is uncertain what Ledgard is really up to.
‘The Skin I Live In’ is based on the 2003 French novel ‘Mygale (Tarantula)’ by Thierry Jonquet, adapted to the screen and made more alluringly precarious by Pedro Almodovar, an artist known for celebrating women with colorful lives and equally psychedelic personalities. This time, however, his women are passive and numb, their power taken from them. Whereas in Almodovar’s previous films such as ‘Volver’, the men in the women’s lives are cruel to them, yet the females turn oppression into strength.
In ‘The Skin I Live In’, the women are just ruined forever, thanks to the brutality of one man played by Antonio Banderas. The actor’s role is a difficult balance of class, charm, and psychopath. Ledgard is a nightmare masked as a dream, and fortunately, Banderas pulls it off with incredible ease. As the Bride to Banderas’ Frankenstein, Elena Anaya is a fluid performer, using her eyes and body to elicit complex emotions under that impressive fake special effects skin.