[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005LGXFFA][/pullquote] In the late 80s and early 90s, Pedro AlmodÃ³var and Antonio Banderas were a film-making team extraordinaire. AlmodÃ³var directed Banderas in a series of films such as Matador, Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown and Atame! Then Hollywood came calling for Banderas and he went on to have big hits such as Desperado and The Mask of Zorro. AlmodÃ³var meanwhile, got on with becoming one of the most critically acclaimed directors in Europe.
Now, approximately 20 years later, they’re reunited for The Skin I Live In. Based on a novel by Thierry Jonquet, Banderas stars as the brilliant plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard, who is undertaking pioneering work in the field of skin grafts for burn victims. But beneath the successful veneer is a tragic history. He’s tormented by the memory of his wife who suffered terrible burns after a car crash. And this is where the problems with the film begin “ Ledgard has bizarre responses to the traumatic events he has experienced. Ledgard is naturally traumatised by his wife’s accident¦ SO HE KEEPS A WOMAN DRESSED IN A BODY STOCKING LOCKED IN THE ATTIC! He’s also devastated by his daughter’s suicide¦ SO HE EXPERIMENTS GRAFTING PIG’S SKIN ONTO PEOPLE!
The Skin I Live In’s juxtaposition of serious and bizarre is as jarring in the film as it was in that last paragraph. While the plot zips along at a good pace and the mysterious events are certainly intriguing (the film opens with the woman in the attic having been there for some years, before going back in time to see how this strange situation came about), the characters’ behaviour just doesn’t feel plausible enough to make you really care.
That said, it’s sufficiently twisty to keep you intrigued – the film leaps straight into the heart of the action, so it’s very hard to give many plot details without throwing in spoilers “ but trust me, you’ll be surprised by how it pans out. And Banderas’s performance is definitely worth a mention. It must have been tempting to give his character all kinds of tics and mannerisms, but he plays it really quietly, all calm normality on the surface, and absolutely batshit crazy bubbling underneath.
I’ve enjoyed many of AlmodÃ³var’s recent movies, such as Volver and Talk To Her and given the five star reviews and plaudits The Skin I Live In has been gathering I was expecting great things of this.