Dr Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) was a renowned plastic surgeon until his wife died following a car crash in which she received disfiguring and extensive burns. Years later, the doctor is conducting secret experiments on a human guinea pig (Elena Anaya) to create tougher human skin, impervious to burns. Following a disturbance in Dr Ledgard’s isolated world we discover the origins of his project and just where his got his “patient” from.
The Skin I Live In is fascinating, mesmerising and completely disturbing. The full extent of Ledgard’s warped experiment can’t be discussed without ruining the grim and macabre twist lying at the centre of the story. This is the sort of film you leave in a slight daze, not wanting to dwell too much on what you have just seen and yet unable to stop discussing it.
Banderas is the perfect lead, evoking sympathy and revulsion in equal quantities… though the balance probably tips towards revulsion by the end. The film benefits through not being in the English language as any clunky dialogue is forgiven and the bizarre plot suddenly sounds all the more plausible. Banderas being creepy in Spanish is much more watchable than the same in English.
The Skin I Live In also benefits from being shot with a European sensibility. No matter how frenzied the action on-screen the camera remains calm and the editing gently paced. Only the acting and (brilliant) music are allowed to get frenetic. It’s a credit to director Pedro Almodóvar, as with this subject matter we could have easily had another Human Centipede on our hands.
It’s a hard one to recommend though, it really isn’t for everyone. If the trailer below has you intrigued then it might be worth a look when released on 26th August, just prepare to feel uncomfortable for a few hours afterwards.
Please note the trailer features no dialogue but the best vacuum cleaner ever.