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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Skin I Live In (Limited Release Date: 10-14-2011)

        Hey! You! Yeah, you, the person who is easily disturbed: Whatever reviews you read, whatever your friends say, however attractive your potential date it, DO NOT GO SEE THE SKIN I LIVE IN. World-Famous Auteur Pedro Almodóvar's latest is a dark and twisty trip down the psycho-sexual rabbit hole, even by his standards. If your eyes or mind reacted with any vague discomfort at so much as reading the words psycho-sexual, then, please, do yourself a favor, and see something else. This one is a master-class in queasy-making, like a roller coaster ride that ensures your sickness thereafter. There's nothing for you here, person who likes to go to the flicks to, 'get away.' All others, proceed with caution, and know that the film as a whole is far, far more strange and unsettling than the strange and unsettling synopsis I am about to offer.

        Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is a brilliant plastic surgeon, capable of enormous scientific break-throughs and impossibly complex operations. He also so happens to be more than a little bit damaged, not to mention completely and totally insane. Ever since Ledgard's wife was burned to the point of deformity in a car crash, the Doctor has been obsessed with creating his own, man-made brand of skin, resistant to bug bites, flames, and other violences that regular flesh cannot ignore. Robert creates and tests his concoction on Vera (Elena Anaya), the beautiful woman who is imprisoned in the basement of his massive, secluded private property. With the help of the most understanding mother to ever walk the earth (Marisa Paredes), Ledgard keeps her hidden away, replacing her outer-layer with his newest creation one step at a time.

        To be perfectly honest, that plot summary could be deduced within the film's opening few moments, but all other developments that I could relay to you would only spoil the gut-wrenching fun that Almodóvar has in store. As is seemingly always the case in his works, issues of gender, identity, and sexuality abound: In some ways, The Skin I Live In could be seen as a mad-man's attempt at remaking Shakespeare's Twelfth Night for the modern age with more than a few mad-scientist/monster-movie elements thrown in for good measure. It's hugely disturbing, and only for those with thick skin (*pats self on back for great joke*), but Skin is also suspenseful, unpredictable, gorgeously produced, finely (over) acted, and morbidly fascinating. If you like a good pot-boiler, crafted by one of the most renown film-makers on the planet, The Skin I Live In is the movie for you. Just don't blame me when that skin starts to crawl.

Grade: B+

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