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"The Skin I Live In" Movie Review

Sara Itkis |
October 10, 2011 | 4:31 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


The Skin I Live In official poster
The Skin I Live In official poster
I went into “The Skin I Live In” with specific expectations, which I have learned never to have when it comes to Pedro Almodovar films. Having watched the trailer and read the short plot summary, I took a seat in the theater and waited to experience an intensely thrilling drama. And the film certainly satisfied the requirements of that genre.

In fact, it did quite a bit more than just satisfied them; it took the elements of a dramatic thriller and exaggerated them to a ridiculous extent. It’s got the beautiful, intelligent, and strong but troubled woman with a mysterious background; it’s got the the handsome but cold scientist who is obsessed with his work while secretly hiding a dark past; it’s got the loyal housekeeper who knows more than she puts out; it’s even got the bald villain with animalistic tendencies - literally. But most of all, “The Skin I Live In” has the most twisted plot twist I have seen. And every moment is mixed with a tint of melodrama - or rather, dripping with it. 

Antonio Banderas is convincing as the clean-cut plastic surgeon who keeps a mysterious woman, beautifully played by Elena Anaya, in his mansion, on whom he experiments to create an advanced form of skin. The effect of this film really depends on how the viewer sees it. For those who take it as a serious film, it is simply a well-made but overcooked thriller. However, for those who see it as a spoof of the genre, containing a roller coaster of a plot just for the fun of it, it just might be one of the best movies of its kind. It is Quentin Tarantino-esque in the way that it revels in the blood, sex, and violence that are inevitable in the genre. Some of the most dramatic moments will leave the audience laughing out loud with unexpected, derisive humor. It is a delicious celebration of everything “thriller.”

Aside from the “spoof” aspect, however, the film also delves into some profound philosophical and psychological questions of identity. Does the skin we live in change who we are? Do we remain the same people even when our external appearance is changed? Armed with stunning visuals and a gripping score by Alberto Iglesias, it attacks these questions while pushing the limits of morality and sanity way over the edge. Watch at your own risk.

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