After months of anticipation, I caught a screening of Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film The Skin I Live Friday night. Like many of his previous films, The Skin I Live In tackled betrayal, deception, strained familial relations, sexual identity, and death in the twisted fashion that I have come to expect from an Almodóvar film. (For a more straightforward review of The Skin I Live In, read my friend Diana’s post. We took a class on Almodóvar back in the day and saw The Skin I Live In with another friend from our class. Mount Holyoke film studies forever!)
Antonio Banderas, in his sixth collaboration with Almodóvar, Banderas plays Robert, a plastic surgeon who has discovered a type of skin that can withstand any sort of damage. He claims that he made this discovery while using mice as test subjects. In actuality Robert has performed countless experimental procedures on a mysterious patient named Vera (Elena Anaya), who he keeps locked away in his spacious Toledo estate with the help of loyal servant Marilia (Marisa Paredes). Who is this patient? Through a series of flashbacks, the dark and sadistic way Vera ended up Robert’s patient is revealed.
I found several aspects of this film to be fascinating. Antonio Banderas’ performance, which one critic compared to Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s films, is wonderfully creepy. Almodóvar’s approach to rape, gender identity, and female relationships is once again prevolent in The Skin I Live In. And then there is the loyal yet possessive maternal figure and the use of the Spanish countryside in this film compared to his other films set in cities. All of this works to contributes to what is Almodóvar’s first real horror film of sorts. (I personally cringe any time I see shots of axes, needles, and other tools, even if they are oddly beautiful, thanks to Almodóvar.)
A scene of personal interest is when Robert and his daughter Norma attend a wedding. Within this scene there are two songs performed by Spanish singer Concha Buika and I was immediately struck by her presence.
I’m ridiculously giddy to see Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In, which is why I’m writing this rather pointless post about how excited I am. My giddiness can’t be contained!
Almodóvar’ is one of my favorite directors. Thanks to a college seminar on the director (without it I don’t think I would feel remotely comfortable assesing any of his films), I can usually find something to love in all of his movies. Except Live Flesh. No one likes Live Flesh.
But I may also be one of the rare filmgoers who doesn’t fervently love Almodóvar’s female-centric movies. I don’t love All About My Mother, Women on the Verge of the Nervous Breakdown, or even Volver. (Sorry Diana.) I just strongly like and admire them.
I prefer Almodóvar’s films when they are complicated, dark, mysterious, and so twisted they make my head spin. And especially when you can’t descibe them in a few choice adjectives. The Skin I Live In looks like just that. More than anything, the draw of The Skin I Live In for me is Antonio Banderas. The actor has reteamed with Almodóvar after 22 years. Sure, Banderas is a big Hollywood star these days (ironically Puss in Boots, the prequel to Shrek, is being released Oct. 28) but Banderas is always at his best with Almodóvar.
Basically, I’m pumped. I’m going to see The Skin I Live In with my friends from my Almodóvar seminar. We’re going to geek out and be hardcore Almodóvar snobs. It’s going to be great.
Oh, and Antonio Banderas appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week to promote The Skin I Live In. The interview is rather uneventful but Banderas gives us some tidbits about what to expect from this movie. And someone once told Pedro Almodóvar he wouldn’t make it as a director. Doesn’t it always happen that way?
Are you as excited for The Skin I Live In as I am? Sound off below.
Your Favorite Foreign Language Film
Pedro Almodóvar is one of my favorite directors. I have seen every one of his films and choosing a favorite is nearly impossible. I tend to gravitate towards his films that are not melodramatic works about female solidarity (as much as I love Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, High Heels and Volver). For that reason, Matador stands out the most to me. On one level it is a completely twisted movie, on another it is an exploration of freedom and desire. I just love this movie.
The teaser trailer for Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film The Skin I Live In (La Piel Que Habito) has left me with a feeling of pure bliss and giddiness. I am smiling from ear to ear.
The brief appearance of Antonio Banderas coupled with the mere glimpses of what will (hopefully) be a commentary on how we alter the human body and a touch of psychological melodrama as only Almodóvar can do it just makes me swoon. (Almodóvar has described The Skin I Live In as a horror film but I hardly believe that he is capable of making a film without a little bit of melodrama.)
The 30-second clip immediately reminds me of Matador (1986), Laws of Desire (1987) and The Flower of My Secret (1995). Whatever it ends up evoking and getting at, The Skin I Live In is bound to be just as self-referential and fascinating as every previous Almodóvar film.
Needless to say, I’m intrigued and can’t wait to here the buzz from Cannes.