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The Skin I Live In

La piel que habito

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 117 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Pedro Almodavar has come up the goods again with this looney-tunes thriller with Antoinio Banderas in scintillating form.

Dr. Robert Ledgard (Banderas) is a successful plastic surgeon perfecting a new synthetic type of skin that’s fireproof and potentially indestructible with the use of a human guinea pig (Anaya) who he is keeping locked in a room in his lavish house. From the beginning we are left wondering who this woman is – his wife who died in a flaming car crash or someone completely different who the doctor is changing to resemble the deceased woman?

The Skin I Live In is a stylish thriller oozing with an enjoyable absurdity as it has a plot that keeps you thinking and intrigued, if not blown away by any hard-hitting surprises. Almodavar uses a non-linear time structure to good effect as we are drip-fed each past deed and shown its consequences in the future. The layered and complex characterisation helps as we slowly learn more about Dr. Ledgard as the film progresses and Almodavar leaves the viewer hating none of the characters no matter what horrific things they do. Antonio Banderas excels as the charismatic doctor and brings a suaveness and likeability to him which leaves us respecting an utter lunatic. Furthermore, as usual, the excellent set design and expert direction always keeps everything on screen looking clear, crisp and classy.

The Skin I Live in will not be to everyone’s taste as Almodavar does go a little too far for some (like a rape scene that’s possibly a little too lighthearted for comfort) and the ridiculous nature of the plot may seem laughable if you’re not in the right mood.

It's Got: An excellent performance from Banderas, the ridiculous and the sublime

It Needs: The kind of viewer who revels in the absurdity rather than find it unintentionally funny


The Skin I Live In might not be Pedro Almodavar’s best but it’s certainly a dark and delightful watch that provides surprises and stylish cinematography. It’s also got Antonio Banderas in excellent form.