Review: The Skin I Live In

To be honest, the work of Pedro Almodovar never appealed to me, until viewing the trailer of his latest film, The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito), which I must confess has completely won me over. Almodovar tells us the story of one of Spain's premier plastic surgeons, who develops a new synthetic skin , however he is plagued by past tragedies that drive his work to the point of obsession.  

The Skin I Live In in visually stunning with rich, confident direction from Almodovar. The fusion of bold colours and rural Spanish locations make this little short of being visually breathtaking. It's also wonderfully layered, constructed with several flashbacks; which really makes the film feel like an enigma that you feel compelled to solve. With each flashback revealing more of the reasons behind the surgeon's madness and the identity of his victim.

There are certain elements of the plot that don't add up, which I shan't go into for the sake of spoilers. However despite these is still well written and structured until the film's climax. It's chock full of several themes, that we've come to associate with the horror genre including sexual identity, the loss of a child's innocence, betrayal, punishment, revenge and obsession. However, these common themes are presented to us in a way that is rarely encountered in the genre. It's clear that Georges Franju's Eyes Without A Face is a clear influence, however (and sorry to lower the tone) , there's even elements which you can compare to today's prominent "torture-porn" genre.

Alberto Inglesias' score is phenomenal as well as the use of Trentemoller's Shades of Marble which at points is chilling. The film features some stellar performances - I'd even go as far as saying this is Antonio Banderas' finest performance. We really get a sense of the mental struggle this man is facing, driving him to the point of obsession. There's also powerful performances from Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Blance Suarez and Jan Cornet.

The Skin I Live In is one of 2011's strongest features - it's visually stunning, well directed and magnificently performed. It's essentially the thinking man's horror film.

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