The Skin I Live In

The Skin I Live In

The Skin I Live In

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Price: $ 14.99

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3 Responses to “The Skin I Live In”

  1. Whitt Patrick Pond "Whitt" Reply May 3, 2013 at 9:20 am
    74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    A no-spoilers review of an absorbing and disturbing near-masterpiece, December 19, 2011
    By 
    Whitt Patrick Pond “Whitt” (Cambridge, MA United States) –
    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)
      
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    The most important thing I can tell you about Pedro Almodóvar’s film, The Skin I Live In (original Spanish title: La piel que habito) is that you should avoid as much as possible knowing anything about it beyond the most basic setup before seeing it. This is one of those cases where spoilers truly can rob you of the full experience of a film. I say this as someone who went into the movie knowing little about it beyond the fact that Pedro Almodóvar directed it and that it had to do with a plastic surgeon obsessed with a mysterious female patient. And that really is the best way to see it.

    Adapted from Thierry Jonquet’s novel Tarantula (original French title: Mygale) by Pedro Almodóvar and his brother Agustín Almodóvar, The Skin I Live In is a complex and, as the background layers are peeled away through revelation, deeply disturbing and chilling film.

    It begins in the present day where we see Robert Legard (Antonio Banderas), a prominent plastic surgeon and medical researcher who, because of the tragic death of his wife in a fiery auto accident several years earlier, is obsessed with creating a new kind of skin superior to the skin we’re born with, one that is not only both tougher and more resistant to burning and injury but also heals quicker and with little to no scarring. In his mansion, Dr. Legard has a special patient under his private, personal care, a young woman named Vera (Elena Anaya), on whom he is trying his new skin out. Our first impression is that Vera is a burn victim that Legrand is caring for, but it quickly becomes clear that Vera is more prisoner than patient. But just who is Vera? And how did she come into Legrand’s rather questionable ‘care’? And why does she so strongly resemble Legrand’s dead wife?

    As in so many his films, The Skin I Live In has many of Almodóvar’s almost trademark themes running all through it: complex familial relationships; the intertwining of family and personal secrets; the nature of desire, brutality and obsession; the lengths to which individuals can and will go; how actions can have the most unexpected and sometimes devastating consequences, and how, ultimately, we can never escape our pasts.

    The performances are pitch perfect, most particularly Antonio Banderas’ controlled and controlling – and casually chilling – Legard, who has his mansion wired so that he can observe his ‘patient’ from almost any part of the house, and Elena Anaya’s Vera with her perfect face and body and the haunted eyes that peer out from the skin she lives in, always aware that she is being observed. Added into the mix – and subtly working in other elements from classic standards of horror – are Marisa Paredes’s Marilia, Legard’s old housekeeper who serves as a kind of matronly Igor to Legard’s Victor Frankenstein, fiercely loyal but openly disapproving; Roberto Álamo’s Zeca, a brutal criminal on the run who serves as a kind of Hyde to Legard’s Jekyll – lust, rage and animal cunning to Legard’s cool controlled calculation. And last but not least, Jan Cornet’s Vicente, a callow young fool whose impulsive self-indulgence triggers a chain of events with consequences more dire than he could imagine. All of whom are bound to each other in ways known and unknown.

    The only reason I rate this four stars instead of five and call it a near-masterpiece instead of an all-out masterpiece is in how the final acts play out. After taking the viewer through a series of ever deeper and increasingly disturbing revelations, Almodóvar seems to settle for what I felt was a disappointingly conventional resolution. But that said, the film still stands out for all of the unexpected places it did take you before that slip back into the expected. There may be times when you’ll think you’ve seen this movie before and you know what’s going on, but I assure you, you haven’t and you won’t until the revelations have been made.

    Highly recommended for any fan of Almodóvar’s and for anyone else who likes well-crafted films that really push the boundaries.

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  2. 12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Disturbing, powerful and thought provoking, April 7, 2012
    By 
    K. Gordon
    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

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    This review is from: Skin I Live In, The (DVD)

    A fascinating and powerful departure for Almodovar, or perhaps more
    accurately more an terrific hybrid of the best of his old and new.
    This has the darker, more actively perversely disturbing and violent themes
    of some of his early work like ‘Matador’ but shot and directed with the
    far smoother and more mature hand he has developed over the years. It
    also uses the more complex and fractured time structure style of
    Almodovar’s more recent work, to great effect.

    In the end it’s a gorgeous looking, philosophically complex mystery and
    horror film. Although not gory, this is a disturbing work, both on a
    literal story level, and also for the questions it raises about sexual and personal
    identity, love, sado-masochism, and passion run amok.

    These themes are all Almodovar touchstones, but delivered here with a
    visually stunning icy touch, and with much more complete logic than in
    his early works, which often felt less fully thought through, and had
    more frustrating plot holes and character leaps.

    Not a ‘scary’ film, but a creepy, moody and highly effective one. A
    dark fairy tale as told by, say Stanley Kubrick.

    It’s good to see Antonio Banderas reunited with Almodovar, and he
    delivers a wonderfully complex and quirky modern day Dr. Frankenstein.

    Less emotional than my two very favorite Almodovar films (Talk to Her,
    All About My Mother), but its exciting to see this extremely talented
    film maker continue to evolve and grow, and I think this represents
    work that can stand among his best.

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  3. Lincoln S. Dall Reply May 3, 2013 at 11:00 am
    9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Welcome to the world of Pedro Almodovar –, March 15, 2012
    By 
    Lincoln S. Dall (Yazoo City, MS, USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    I was telling a friend last night that there is no way you could adequately describe a plot of a Pedro Almodovar film. They are so over the top, so larger than life, so filled with twists and turns. There is always some sort of car chase or people escaping the scene of the crime on a moped. There is always a lot of drama. There are always many quirky characters – in this case a mad scientist and a man running around in a tiger costume and cowboy boots. You have to enter a very surreal, crazy world in order to enjoy a Pedro Almodovar film. All of that said, I love his films and they bring me great joy. I told that same friend that I love Pedro Almodovar films as much as I love the idea of him. He is truly an icon in the world of film. When I read the first review of this film by Roger Ebert, he was also reviewing the film Mission Impossible 4. In a film world where almost everything is a sequel or of a certain genre, the world of Pedro Almodovar is unique and refreshing. He is truly an original – someone who has a very unique identity and a strong sense of self. I don’t want to get into any plot specifics because it would ruin the drama for you. However, if you “get” his film, if you are willing to open yourself up to his world, then The Skin I Live In is a treat indeed.

    Update – May 7, 2012
    I just got back from my second trip to Spain. Spain has changed a lot in the last few decades. A very conservative Catholic country that never went through the Protestant Reformation, Spain was under the control of the Church for decades, and then endured decades of rigidity and repression under the military regime of General Francisco Franco. To understand Pedro Almodovar and his world, you need to understand a little about the country of Spain from which he comes. Now, only about 20 percent of the people of Spain consider themselves practicing Catholics – this from the country that gave us the Spanish inquisition. Secularism is the reality of Spain right now, and The Skin I live In and the rest of Pedro Almodovar’s films come from the creativity and breaking down of barriers and stereotypes that have burst on the scene in Spain in recent years.

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