It’s only after a summer of excess that the film industry’s real gems show their face. And with the Oscar season ready to hit in the States, Pedro Almodovar gets the jump on his competition with a wonder picture that makes even Transformers 3 worth the pain. Loosely based on Thierry Jonquet’s Tarantula, and adapted himself by writer/director Almodovar, The Skin I Live In is a dark and fearsome tale of obsession, greed and brilliance.
After developing a new type of synthetic skin, impervious to damage and fire, plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Banderas) claims to have only tested the new man-made biology on mice but looking deeper reveals a much darker secret hidden behind closed doors.
Though the narrative struggles to really pull you in in the opening salvo, once The Skin I Live In gets going, you’ll find it impossible to take your eyes off the screen. As the complexities of the characters and the darker side of the plot start to reveal themselves, everything suddenly clicks into place and the second and third acts are utterly gripping.
With as much on offer under the surface as is explored more directly in the plot, tonally The Skin I Live In draws comparisons to the wonderful Oldboy. Almodovar was able to craft a feeling of unease; you know something’s wrong, but never quite what.
This is a smart, complex and intelligent movie, from a filmmaker at the top of his game. Banderas delivers a cultured performance, though really the full ensemble deserve great credit. The Skin I Live In is like nothing you’ll see a ll year – it’s a horror film with no real scares – and a unique piece of cinema everyone should search out, especially if that means venturing away from your usual multiplex.