Saturday, July 14, 2012

More than Meets the Eye.

Film: The Skin I Live In
Year: 2011
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Written by: Pedro Almodóvar and Agustín Almodóvar, based on the novel 'Tarantula' by Thierry Jonquet

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Jan Cornet, Roberto Álamo, Eduard Fernández, José Luis Gómez, Blanca Suárez.
Running time: 124 min

I'm always getting judged for the movies I like and the movies I watch. That's why I shy away from the question "what's a good movie?", unless I really know the person enough to predict how it'll all turn out for them. Otherwise, people will just look at me and go "you must be really stuffed in the head." The Skin I Live In is exactly the kind of film that I won't be phoning home about. But it isn't a film that left me totally indifferent. Far from it, in fact. I can see that a whole lot of other people would separate the strangeness of the main twist and the film itself. Yes, the twist comes as quite a shock. It's the kind of twist that I had to wonder whether it was successful because it was weird, or if it was just plain weird. However, there's a lot more to this movie than meets the eye. Which I guess is kind of the point of all the whole film.


The Skin I Live In has Antonio Banderas out of voicing the seediest cat in animated films and being in nothing but straight-to-DVD action flicks and into the skin of Dr. Robert Ledgard (and thank goodness, too), a brilliant plastic surgeon who is trying to create a synthetic skin that doesn't burn. He lives in a huge house in Toledo, Spain, experimenting in honour of his wife, who died from burns sustained in a flaming car accident. Also in the house is Vera Cruz (Elena Anaya, who is as beautiful as she is talented), who lives in a single room wearing a body sock, practising yoga and crafting stuff to pass time. We find that Ledgard is obsessed with this beautiful, mysterious woman he is holding captive in his house, as he has a camera on her at all times which he watches her on a huge screen. We're introduced to Vera's world and Ledgard's quest to create perfect skin, but we wonder what went on beforehand to create this rather bizarre situation. That is only the start of it.


Instead of telling us all the facts as if they were a list, Pedro Almodóvar goes back and forth between all of the little pieces that make up the puzzle. Admittedly, between the flashbacks of Ledgard's family and his daughter getting raped, and Ledgard's fixation on the rapist, along with a mysterious guinea pig that I couldn't quite recognise and a home invasion by a strange fellow dressed as a tiger who was then revealed to be Ledgard's brother, I had no idea where The Skin I Live In was going. It wasn't too long before the story started clicking into place, playing out like the ultimate creation instead of having only some assembly required. This gives Almodóvar time to explore the themes of loneliness, sexual identity, death, and possibly the most unique tale of revenge that I've ever seen. In other hands, this would have been the stuff that fits right into The Human Centipede's generation of horror. Almodóvar creates his macabre, ominous tale with elegance, kitsch and malevolence. Sometimes I felt as if he was laughing at us, as he lures us to all of these ludicrous places. The Skin I Live In is almost in a breed of it's own, playing out as a horror that dares you to get under your skin and make you question your own identity. Which is somewhat funny to see these days when horrors are all about scaring you with more blood and guts than are probably possible to be inside one person.


While I enjoyed The Skin I Live In, for some reason or another I didn't fall in love with it like many others have. It may be because I felt there was too much going on, and not enough of it seemed to meld together as well as I wanted it to. Still, The Skin I Live In was a very effective piece of art. Effective in a way that is so unique that you have to wonder whether this was a film made in a decade where everyone feels safe in the net of being just the same as everyone else. When someone pushes the envelope like this, it is a joy to behold.

What I got:

18 comments:

  1. I didn't think the film was that weird, but I can see why some people do. I think it's Almodovar, and I celebrate it. This was a wonderful movie, and I was riveted from start to finish. While I don't like it quite as much as other Almodovar films such as Talk to Her or Volver, I really enjoyed it and know it will stay in my memory for a long while to come. I think you will like films like Talk to Her or Volver more than this one because they're more grounded in a realistic world, though still with their own touches of unique strangeness. I certainly anticipate with excitement each new film Almodovar brings us.

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    1. I was telling my friends about it and they thought it sounded pretty darn weird. Mind you, they think everything I watch is weird!

      I guess it will be a little strange having this start my Almodovar education, because I can't imagine many of his films would be all-out like this one. I shall have to see for myself!

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  2. A very apt analysis of a very strange movie! Well, I couldn't have agreed more with it. I too was engulfed by an air of indifference throughout the movie and the twist somewhat changed my apathy for the movie into a strange sense of antipathy which I seldom experience while watching movies!!! :-)

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    1. Yes, it surely was a different experience!

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  3. I watched some other films by Almodovar after seeing this one and they all are amazing, but I'd say that this one is the weirdest out of a few I've watched. Just like you, I didn't fall in love with this movie totally, I think I'd still give it 4.5 rating (which yes a great score but still it's not 5 stars). It was fantastic though.

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    1. I'll definitely be checking out more Almodovar in the future. A 4.5 rating seems just!

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  4. Revenge, macabre, sexual identity, elegance... sounds weird and sleek, and damn, that looks like an awesome film. I can't believe I never watched it, what's wrong with me.

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    1. It is a pretty awesome film! I hope you like it when you see it.

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  5. I love this movie. Like you, the first time I watched it... the first hour was confusing and somewhat dull and I didn't get what was going on. But then the twist came and it had me. And the second time I watched it, everything melded together much better. You start seeing more clues and how every little thing works together and what things mean, etc. It's definitely a movie that needs a second viewing.

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    1. I'm definitely giving it that second viewing!

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  6. Another great film from Almodovar. Banderas and Anaya are wonderful together, though it would've been interesting to see Penelope Cruz as Vera. And that score by Iglesias is marvelous.

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    1. Penelope Cruz...now that would have been interesting!

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  7. Really loved the movie. One of my favorite films by Almodovar - the cienmatography, the acting and especially the amazing score were really unforgettable. i did predict the twist though, there was quite a bit of forshadowing in the film and I really like that Almodovar did those hints, otherwise the film would be one of those you remember for the shocking twist alone.

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    1. I wish I was more up with the play with this movie, because I would have got the twist a whole lot earlier. Then again, I had just watched J. Edgar and I was frustrated by that one. Still, a very good movie!

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  8. Oh, I was so mad about missing this one... really need to catch up. I'm excited to see whether I will love or like it.
    By the way, don't worry about being judged for the movies you like - everyone judges people for what they like and don't like. Just recently I decided I didn't like a person because he didn't like my favourite band. It's stupid, but it's life.

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    1. Let me know what you think when you watch it!
      Haha, I know exactly where you're coming from. I have some animosity for people who don't like Christopher Nolan. It is stupid, but I can't help it.

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  9. I also felt the movie pushed the envelope a lot, but that is why I liked it so much- the shock factor! I do understand why you didn't, it's a love it or hate it type of film!

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    1. The shock factor was really well done - I wish more filmmakers had guts to do similar things!

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You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

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