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The Skin I Live In - Review

The Skin I Live In

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

PEDRO Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In is a bold return to form after the relative disappointment of Broken Embraces. It’s also one of his trickiest films to review.

Part thriller, part horror and part psychological drama, the film will play best to those who know least about it.

What we will reveal is that Antonio Banderas (reuniting with Almodóvar for the first time since Atame!) plays revered plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard who may be about to make a valuable breakthrough in his field.

But who is the mysterious woman (Elena Anaya) locked away in his luxurious home? And just how brilliant or sane is he?

What’s more, what is the dark secret from his past that seems to be driving him?

Almodóvar’s twisting screenplay keeps you guessing throughout as various people come and go and flashbacks slowly help piece together the puzzle.

It’s fair to say you won’t be expecting half of what the director throws at you, which has drawn comparisons with everything from The Human Centipede to the work of David Cronenberg.

This is, it’s fair to say, one of the more outrageous entries onto the Almodóvar CV and – as a result – can be difficult to watch. But those who stick with it should feel rewarded by a dazzling slice of storytelling that also poses questions about the nature of identity, abuse, sexualisation and vanity.

And the performances are superb, too, especially from Banderas as the enigmatic and occasionally creepy surgeon and from Anaya as his muse.

Indeed, it’s fair to say that viewers may not realise just how great they are until a second viewing – which, for the majority of viewers, may be downright essential almost immediately afterwards. It’s that good!

(In Spanish, with subtitles)

Certificate: 15
Running time: 120mins
UK Release Date: August 26, 2011