Review: The Skin I Live In (La Piel que Habito)

Oct 21, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: lit

The latest from Pedro Almodovar is not a traditional scary movie by any means, but it definitely ranks pretty high on the creepy factor. This is one of those films that’s so disturbing, you end up thinking about it randomly for days afterwards. The director himself describes it as “a horror story without screams or fright.” Indeed, the picture is so effective because it skips the visceral and goes straight for the psyche.

In Toledo, Spain, Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is a surgeon who has developed an artificial skin that cannot burn. He claims to have only tested his breakthrough on mice, but in reality he has been performing his experiments on a beautiful, young woman (Elena Anaya). Dr. Ledgard’s servant Marilia (Marisa Paredes) caters to her needs while he is away.

Things take a very unusual turn when Marilia’s estranged son, Zeca, arrives at the house for Spain’s carnival season. His arrival sheds light on the principal character’s back story, and the audience quickly realizes they are not watching the film they think they are. The developments are not easy to watch, either (more than a few people walked out of the screening I attended).

Almodovar, who adapted this film from Thierry’s Jonquet’s novel, Tarantula, employs his trademark themes of sexual identity, family, and bizarre narrative structure. The result is a film that simply defies comparison. It didn’t even occur to me to suspect some of the plot turns that came along.

This film is not for everyone; certainly not one to take a first date on. Be prepared for very disturbing sexual content. Still, the film is never gratuitous, at least in my opinion. The violence serves the story, and not the other way around. That’s very rare for horror pictures these days, and it’s the main reason to seek this one out if you are looking for a different type of scare this Halloween.

- Michael Carmona

REVIEW:  (Highest Rating)

Now Playing in Limited Markets

Rated R for disturbing violent content including sexual assault, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use and language

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