Star rating – 8/10
Almodóvar takes a step into a much more twisted and uncomfortable place than we are used to being led by him, with his new film ‘The Skin I Live In’. Antonio Banderas is impressive as a wealthy and celebrated plastic surgeon, but he has a very dark secret lurking in his designer mansion.
He is secretly operating on a young woman called Vera, and using a substance derived from pig skin to create a new, tougher skin for her. He is said to have lost his wife following a tragic car accident some years before, but the identity of this mystery woman is so obscure, that it even seems a possibility that he has hidden his wife away to experiment on, and let the world believe that she died. But in the context of this complex and macabre plot, that would be far, far too easy.
Themes of violence and sexuality are explored as Almodóvar weaves this fantastic web of a story. It has the usual beauty of form and sensuous colour that he always creates on celluloid. But the plot is a bit too farfetched to carry credulity to the degree needed here. Elena Anaya is beautiful as the victim and prisoner Vera, although quite how she would manage to find her inner peace through yoga when the true horror of the experience she has undergone is revealed is a bit of a mystery.
There are lots of twists, and the plot flits backwards and forwards in time to fill in the necessary gaps. But it is all a little too contrived, and a lot too uncomfortable to be truly brilliant this time for Almodóvar.