The Skin I Live In

I have been a fan of Pedro Almodóvar’s work since I went to see Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at an art theatre near Boston Commons with Marc & Carol in 1988. I have since seen that film at least six times. Its art is exotic, and its comedy is oh so Spanish.

I have seen every one of his films since the 80’s. Among my personal favorites are Talk to Her, Volver, and Broken Embraces.

His newest is The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito). And it will stand out in my mind as his best.  A totally mesmerizing suspense/horror film, with stunning cinematography and art direction, and a totally unique plotline that will keep you riveted to the screen for the entire 123 minutes.

A large part of the film’s allure is its art-like framing, reminiscent of Goya or Manet, while the underlying chaos churns in your mind.  I defy you to figure out the details until at least 80% of the film has been completed.

Antonio Banderas is at his most suave and smoldering; and Elena Anaya as his prisoner (both figuratively as well as literally) is like a living sculpture, with a multi-layered story within every crevice.

Everything you see onscreen is lush and three-dimensional; every color is over-saturated.  The story itself is so fractured and unsteady it feels as if it will collapse like a house of cards as any time, but Almodóvar slowly gives it more texture as flashbacks and details are slowly revealed.  Its a film that totally envelopes you in its story, while brilliantly setting exactly the right pace and tone by using a subtle yet jarring staccato violin at the appropriate times.

I highly recommend it, especially on the big screen. (At the screening last night, I noticed that no one moved — or apparently even breathed — for the entire run time.) Its not a film I will soon forget.

Pedro Almodóvar Wikipedia


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