Film Review: The Skin I Live In

The Skin I Live In is an excellent film. Pedro Almodóvar’s film is unusual and fascinating, and is highly recommended.

After his wife was horrifically burned in a car accident, plastic surgeon Dr Robert Ledgard has been trying to develop artificial skin. After much testing, he has developed skin that is more resilient than natural skin, and is immune to mosquito bites.  With his faithful assistant Marilia at his side, Robert needs to test his creation out on a subject…

What works so well in The Skin I Live In is the way in which the narrative is constructed. Almodóvar throws viewers into the action, before offering some explanation and background in lengthy flashback sequences. The film retains a sense of mystery until the reveal. There are clues, so some viewers may already guess the outcome. Those that do not guess, will find the reveal surprising and welcome. There are indications that the film may head in a different, even more surreal direction.

Despite the dramatic nature of The Skin I Live In, the film does have some humorous moments. In keeping with the tone of the film, any comedy is unmistakably black. The drama in Almodóvar’s film is sometimes shocking, but never unconvincing. The Skin I Live In is very well crafted, and ensures that the audience is always absorbed.

The film walks the fine line between quirky and accessible. The narrative is bizarre and the film offers a number of surreal moments. These are executed very well, and can be amusing or surprising. Nonetheless, the film never veers too far off the path; it is mainstream despite its peculiarities. The film works on a surface level, as well as delving underneath the epidermis.

Art direction in the film is superb. The whole picture is preoccupied with the form. The cinematography is beautiful. It perfectly captures the flawless skin of Vera. The film has a sheen reminiscent of a glossy magazine. It is highly polished and immensely pleasing to the eye.

Antonio Banderas gives a solid performance as Robert. Elena Anaya is fantastic as Vera. Her beauty makes her perfectly for the role, and she shows a good range. Marisa Paredes is great as the loyal Marilia, while Jan Cornet is well cast as Vicente.

The Skin I Live In is highly recommended. If you manage to avoid finding out the reveal beforehand, then the film is even better.