The Skin I Live In is a 2011 Spanish psychological thriller film written and directed by Pedro Almodovar. Other-wise known for a bunch of other well-acclaimed Spanish films that I have never seen. The film stars Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Jan Cornet, and Roberto Alamo.
It is based on a novel called Mygale written by Thierry Jonquet. It was released in English under the title of Tarantula.
The film received positive reviews and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film.
The film has Antonio Banderez doing the role of Robert Ledgard, a successful surgeon that is working on a way to cultivate artificial skin meant to be resistant against burns as well as insect bites. However, early on, it is revealed that he has experimented illegally on humans. This will explain the female that lives in his house.
She has basically become his guinea-pig, and while she has attempted suicide on multiple occasions. He is persistent in his studies. However, there is definitely something poking and prodding beneath all of this. There is something even more damning than simply kidnapping someone for experiments.
Beyond it all, the film deals with obsession, revenge, and a journey through sexual identity.
The film brings a very enjoyable performance from Antonio Banderez. Meanwhile, Elena Anaya definitely has an interesting role to tackle that she does do particularly well. The film definitely has an environment behind it from the concept alone and Antonio seems driven with his character. Although, at the end of the day, I wonder whether or not the film stands above and beyond in-terms of quality the way it does in-terms of story.
There’s a lot of similarities to the stereotypical soap-opera during some aspects. There’s a lot of moments that don’t seem to be contributing anything worthwhile to the premise. The premise itself can be summarized in a few short sentences. The premise is what brought this movie the recognition it has. However, there’s a lot of things that happen in-between that don’t seem to add anything or emphasize any stellar parts of the movie.
For example, Zeca’s character had no reason whatsoever to exist. He added nothing substantial to the film. All his character did was add an unnecessary trait to the film and suck away time that could have been spent dealing with the looming circumstances already established in the film. His existence is strange because it seems like he was meant to be a bigger part of the story, but he doesn’t actually mean anything at all.
Robert Ledgard’s wife didn’t really mean anything either to tell you the truth. I suppose it can be argued that she adds a certain extra-depth to the character, but I feel like the same thing could have been achieved without her. Also, the entire idea of what he is trying to accomplish with the artificial skin feels like filler too.
There are all of these elements and while they did have purpose, I feel like they interfered with what I was really interested in about the film. In conclusion, The Skin I Live In isn’t really as groundbreaking as it could have been. The film doesn’t have this in-depth psychological analysis underlining each shot, and I recommend that a viewer doesn’t watch this movie with those expectations. It has a lot of needless moments and things that feel like they are meant to extend the run-time more than accomplish anything of genuine worth. The glimpses of emotion are there, albeit underdeveloped and lacking much build and by the end, the movie doesn’t feel like it really said anything at all whatsoever on an emotional level.
However, if you can overlook the fluff, the premise itself is too unique and interesting to be dismissed. Also, the performances found in this film are oftentimes strong and capable. The film simply doesn’t meet or surpass the expectations that the concept and cast would suggest.
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