The Skin I Live In 

Just fundamentally unpleasant

click to enlarge The Skin I Live In
  • The Skin I Live In

For more than 25 years, Pedro Almodóvar’s penchant for lurid melodramatic plot twists and kinky sexuality has generally been softened by a frisky sense of humor and a fundamental affection for his characters. The Skin I Live In marks the first time that the director has lost sight of nearly everything that’s been effective about his work, leaving something that’s just fundamentally unpleasant.

Adapting a novel by Theirry Jonquet, Almodóvar tells the story of brilliant Spanish cosmetic surgeon Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), who’s carrying out possibly unethical experiments in his home clinic on a patient named Vera (Elena Anaya), who appears to be a prisoner. In flashback, we learn about the tragedies that have driven Ledgard to extremes, including the death of his wife and an assault on his daughter (Blanca Suárez) by a young man named Vicente (Jan Cornet).

For a while, the simple mysteries behind Vera’s identity and Ledgard’s past drive interest in where the story is going. Almodóvar trots out his familiar bold, bright visual style, undercutting what could feel like grotesque exploitation in a way that highlights what he does best: sweeten content that would taste sour in other hands.

But that sweetness all but vanishes in the film’s second half, when Almodóvar focuses on the narrative’s freaky twist. He seems not the least bit concerned about understanding the characters involved in all this creepiness, their actions ranging from incoherent to inexcusable. And suspension of disbelief that might have been possible in literary form becomes absurdly implausible when it’s staring you in the face.

Perhaps most baffling is that Almodóvar’s trademark emphasis on fabulous, resilient female characters is replaced by a parade of sexual violence that never pays off with insight or satisfying dramatic resolution. After nearly two hours, the skin I live in was crawling, and itching for it all to be over.

THE SKIN I LIVE IN

click to enlarge 2_stars.gif

Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Jan Cornet
Rated R

Twitter: @ScottRenshaw

Pin It
Favorite

Tags:

More by Scott Renshaw

Latest in Film Reviews

  • The Diary of a Teenage Girl

    The Diary of a Teenage Girl plays fair with complex adolescent sexuality
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • The End of the Tour

    David Foster Wallace, The End of the Tour and the perils of biographical drama
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

    The Man from U.N.C.L.E. carves out a unique space in a crowded espionage marketplace
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

© 2015 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation