The Skin I Live In DVD Review

Appearances can be deceptive, especially in a Pedro Almodovar film.

Doctor Robert Ledgard is a man on a mission in The Skin I Live In, and on the surface this mission would appear to be the advancement of medical science.

More specifically, to improve the quality of life for people who have suffered horrific facial burns.

In spite of his talent as a plastic surgeon, Ledgard has had to transgress the boundaries of acceptable medical practice in pioneering his medical breakthrough by splicing pig dna with the human kind to create a hybrid that can withstand any kind of superficial damage.

Yet instead of gratitude, Ledgard’s test patient, Vera Cruz, is a very reluctant patient who is more intent on taking her own life than marvelling at her new skin.

Locked away in Ledgard’s palatial home which doubles as his private surgery, Cruz holds the key to the supposedly noble doctor’s true motives in his search for the perfection.

And the secrets she carries lie more than just skin deep.

Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In is, well, pretty messed up.

But as always with this spanish auteur, this is presented in a beautiful way.

Being a casual Almodovar fan, I know enough about his canon of work to have picked up on a familiar theme that runs through most of them.

Familial dysfunction, mixed in with an unhealthy dose of incest to a greater or lesser degree.

Adapted from Thierry Jonquet’s book Mygale, The Skin I Live In continues this theme but applies a twist that even by Almodovar’s standards is bizarre.

Set in 2012 but part told in flashback of events six years earlier, we slowly begin to understand why Robert Ledgard, played by Antonio Banderas, has chosen the path he has and how the trauma of his past has pushed him to desperate measures in his search for the perfect skin.

But the film’s genuine protagonist is Ledgard’s guinea pig, Vera Cruz, illuminated by Elena Anaya and her captivating eyes.

A seemingly vulnerable character of great physicality and mystery, Cruz is both villain and hero in a story where black and white morality is replaced with layers of subtle grey.

The result is a gripping story full of twists and revelations that will keep you hooked until the final act.

So while appearances can be deceptive, it’s got nothing on The Skin I Live In.

Jonathan Campbell

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December 2011
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