Antonio Banderas reunites with acclaimed director Pedro Almodovar (Talk to Her) to star in this skin-crawling Spanish thriller. Based on the novel Tarantula by Thierry Jonquet. Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 BAFTAs. Now playing nationwide, click for movie times and trailer.
Perhaps only an auteur of distinguished camp sensibilities like Almodóvar could’ve pulled off something as far-fetched as The Skin I Live In and turned it into a work of uncanny feeling, even if it often goes off the rails and teeters on the edge of absurdity, and not to mention downright, misogyny-pandering trash. Based on Thierry Jonquet's novel Tarantula, the film is a bizarro, deeply perverse melodrama nodding to Hitchcock’s macabre voyeurism and Cronenberg’s body-horror clinicism, and encompassing Almodóvar’s favourite themes (identity, gender roles, family secrets) and various genre standbys (captivity/Stockholm syndrome, revenge, Dr. Frankenstein).
Suffice to say, revealing too much of its twisty plot would ruin the experience, but it basically involves Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas, in his best form in ages), a brilliant but loopy plastic surgeon who keeps a pretty guinea pig (Elena Anaya) locked up his basement to conduct skin experiments on. From here, the narrative fans out into several directions, including a typically lengthy Almodóvarian flashback delving into Ledgard’s tragedy-prone past, and though I guessed the big secret pretty quickly (as some of you might), there’s still something mesmerizing about our queasy dawning realisation of its grand design and the sumptuous, irresistibly lush surfaces of the visuals.
The Skin I Live In is high-art pulp: brazenly kitschy, elegantly creepy, patently ludicrous.