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Review: The Skin I Live In

There are a small subset of auteurs left in cinema, but without a doubt, Pedro Almodóvar is the most unique. Issues like incest, murder, adultery are all freely found in his filmography. He operates without any boundaries and, whether you always enjoy his films or not, it is always an experience.

Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is first introduced speaking to a group of his contemporaries. Intersplicing Robert's speech with shots of a woman who appears to be held captive. Dr. Ledgard is preaching the advances of a synthetic skin he has created, it is resistant to cuts, burns and scratches. He would like to advance to human testing, but the scientific community pulls back. Robert has gone too far, maybe he should consider returning to surgery.

Robert, feeling dejected, returns home and scampers up the stairs to his room. There, we see a glowing television screen featuring the same woman we saw before. Robert eyes her intently, but his intensity could be taken for love or madness. What is she doing there? How long has she been there? The more we come to know about Vera (Elana Anaya), the more questions pop up.

Marilia, the housekeeper (Maris Paredes) who knows Robert better than he knows himself, has her own secrets she keeps.

Secrets are a running theme in Skin and each answer pieces together an unexpected fold. It is uncommon during a film to be unsettled the more information is presented, yet this is the case. Robert has more than his fair share of demons and, if suspense is to be preserved, you should see them for yourself onscreen.

If a modern day Frankenstein is something that you find intoxicating, then Antonio Banderas' turn as Robert will at times frighten and astound you. Elana Anaya is equally captivating as Vera, every quiver and furtive glance a revelation into a character whom we know so little about.

Almodóvar drops many provoking questions into the film without making any effort to address them later. It is not his mission to analyze these thoughts, rather to craft a melodrama that aims for the stomach instead of the mind.

Sexuality lingers throughout this perverse tale and really there is no one better to ask what turns you on than Almodóvar. Some will be offended, some will be riveted and all will be sitting on the edge wondering what will happen next.

***1/2 out of ****

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