The Skin I Live In [2011] ★★★½

Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In”  is a twisted take on “Frankenstein” with a sexual angle. There’s the mad doctor, played by Antonio Banderas in one of his most chilling roles. Then there’s the victim, a suicidal patient whom we only see at first in a head bandage and a body stocking. Banderas is not only experimenting on her in his isolated mansion, he’s also observing her behind glass with a voyeuristic perversity. The story of how this woman came to be the subject of the doctor’s experiments and the forms that those experiments have taken make up the bulk of the story. But that’s all you should know going in.  The less said about the story, the better, as it’s built on shocking revelations and surprises. It should be no surprise though that there’s something creepy and twisted at the heart of “The Skin I Live In”. Anyone who’s familiar with Almodovar’s work, from “Live Flesh” to “Broken Embraces” will know exactly what to expect here. Only Hitchcock before him has managed to combine style and perversity while still mounting unforgettable dialogues. Almodovar does exactly that in his film. “Skin” is beautifully scored, shot and acted. Banderas, in particular, shines in one of his most unforgettable performances. The last time Banderas worked with Almodovar was for ‘Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!’ in 1990. His character in “Skin” offers an intensely sick yet charming presence. You know he’s up to no good, but you still can’t help feeling sorry for him.

“Vertigo,” ” “Rebecca,” “Frankenstein” and every mad doctor movie ever made are mixed in Almodovar’s chilling masterpiece. It would be hard to analyze it without giving away too many details, but that’s the beauty at the center of this constantly surprising film. The actors do wonders, uncovering rich depths in their characters. “The Skin I Live In” is a brilliant film. No way will you be able to get it out of your head.

Rating: 3.5/4

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