Spanish film review: ‘The Skin I Live In’ by Pedro Almódovar

You don’t need a profound knowledge of Almódovar’s films to know that his work is extreme, fantastical and somewhat controversial. So it will come as no surprise that his latest release, ‘The Skin I Live In’, has been greeted with both scepticism and awe. There is no denying, however, that it is sleek, stylized and unmistakably his.

‘The Skin I Live In’ tells the story of a successful plastic surgeon, played adeptly by Antonio Banderas, who has a private operating room in his opulent home. Kept prisoner within his house is a beautiful woman called Vera, who he uses as a guinea pig as he carries out experimental work to create a new kind of skin. Vera is similar in looks to his late wife, who was burned in a car crash twelve years before – and who could have been saved by the very skin he is now creating.

To add another quirky and almost implausible twist, Vera also has something to do with the surgeon’s raped and dead daughter – to reveal more would give the game away but, needless to say, it is a twist that only Almódovar can get away with, the plot expertly executed with superb set design and cinematography as well as an atmospheric score by Alberto Iglesias. Lesser directors would not get away with the feat that Almódovar has achieved with ‘The Skin I Live In’, yet somehow this Spanish veteran has created a thriller that combines horror, insanity and parody in a way that is compelling and almost believable.

Almódovar has based the latest of his thrillers on the 2003 novel ‘Mygale’ by the late French writer Thierry Jonquet. It was filmed in Madrid in 2010 and this year premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, to much expectation. It will be released to Spanish, US and US audiences later this autumn and, personally, I can’t wait to set eyes on this much-talked-about movie.

Cactus offers evening and part-time Spanish courses in the UK, US and Canada, as well as in-country Spanish immersion courses across Spain and Latin America.

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