Friday, October 21, 2011


The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito)

The Skin I Live In Just a few seconds after a trailer began to play at a film screening, I immediately recognize the colorful visual, distinct close-ups, exceptional beautiful images of women, and an elegant style—this must be a new film from Pedro Almodóvar, I made my bet. Indeed, it is the trailer for this Spanish auteur's latest film "The Skin I Live In" (La piel que habito | Spain 2011 | in Spanish | 117 min.). Like his previous films, Pedro Almodóvar twists the plot, toys with sexuality, adores beautiful women, exhibits stunning visual, and plays loud music in this new thriller. However, he also blends a darker persona into its protagonist like never before.

Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is a talented plastic surgeon who secretly develops a new human skin that is resistant from damage such as burning. His obsession about this research is inspired by his personal tragedy—his dead wife is a burn victim. At his secluded mansion that also serves as his personal research lab, a beautiful woman named Vera (Elena Anaya) can be seen on a big monitor. Not only Vera has the perfect synthetic skin that Dr. Ledgard implants his invention, she also has the look of his deceased wife, thanks to Dr. Ledgard's surgeries. However, that is just the iceberg of a mountain of dark secrets and appalling mysteries, which I will not say one more word.

Antonio Banderas stars as Robert Ledgard and Elena Anaya stars as Vera in The Skin I Live In

Most of Pedro Almodóvar's films contain shocking story development, but this film outdoes any earlier film. He skillfully presents the character of Dr. Ledgard—when each secret is revealed, one layer of Dr. Ledgard's cover is peeled off. A similar observation goes to the beautiful and mysterious Vera, who is living under the skin Dr. Ledgard creates. Dr. Ledgard surely can change Vera's outlook, but can he change her mind and replace his loss?

Even though I can somehow recognize Pedro Almodóvar's underlying style in this film, I am shocked and disturbed by the darkness of this film's theme. The film is quite powerful, yet extremely unsettling. It is a beautiful picture to watch, yet, I wish I have not witnessed the horror.

"The Skin I Live In," a Sony Pictures Classics release, opens on Friday, October 21, 2011 at Bay Area theaters.

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