The Skin I Live In (2011)

Ladies and germs, if you want a nice surgery done anywhere on your body, Zorro is the guy to call.

Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), a brilliant plastic surgeon, seeks to overcome the grief of his late wife’s disfigurement in a fiery car crash by inventing skin that is impervious to injury, but his experiments on a living woman (Elena Anaya) hasten his descent into madness.

The thriller/horror genre is one that writer/director Pedro Almodovar has not touched before. Considering all of his films are about the empowerment of women, social issues, and highly-charged romances, seeing him do a film that explores a lot of different and bizarre things, is very interesting. Still, it could have been way better really.

Almodovar places us into a plot that we have no idea what’s happening and just where the hell we are. I usually get bothered when films place me somewhere and I have no clue where I am, but it works here because it sets us in the right mood with the setting, tone, and also the characters. Then this dude in a lion costume comes into the story, and that’s when things really start to get crazy.

The reason why I liked Almodovar’s direction here is because even though he is some new territory, he seems very at ease with all of this bizarre-o shit that’s going on especially when it comes to his themes being placed into the story. There is a lot of sex in here but it doesn’t feel over-exploitative and considering there are a lot of people boning here, it’s a surprise that this didn’t turn into a soft-core porno flick. It’s also great because Almodovar is able to keep this mystery with this flick going the whole time even when we think we know what’s going on which leads me to the one element to this film that won me over.

There’s a moment here in this flick where everything turns around and we see one of the major plot points come to base and basically explain everything we are seeing. The twist is something I never guessed and trust me, you won’t get either but once it does happen, everything starts to make sense and this is where Almodovar succeeds. The story was already weird in the first place but by throwing in this little twist, it makes everything seem a whole lot weirder and without giving anything else away, let me just say that you will look at this film in a very different way my friends.

I think that this twist was so great because it actually helped a film that I thought was not doing so well when it came to its structure. Somewhere in the middle of the flick once everything started making sense, Almodovar decides to thrown in a little flashback sequence that shows what had taken place six years prior which may explain everything clearer and give us a better idea of what we are seeing but considering that this film starts off and about 30 minutes later we are taken back in time to only be given more characters to keep track of, it almost feels like Almodovar gave up on his original story idea to start a brand new one. It was also hard to keep track of what was going on considering that the film keeps cutting back-and-forth between the past and present which made it hard to actually keep track of the time lines.

There were also other problems I had with this film, and it was believability. We know that this dude Robert has this chick locked up so obviously if she escaped, his ass would be screwed for life. So when he starts actually believing the fact that she won’t live him once he sets her free, seemed very unbelievable to me considering she obviously wants to leave and giving her any type of leverage seems like a dumb idea. The other issue with this story was that I couldn’t really believe that Robert, a guy who’s job concerns him with actually helping people out, would actually go to the limits of torture that he does pull here but then again, there are some effed up people out there and sometimes they will do anything for revenge.

Antonio Banderas, aka the sexiest brochacho alive, does a very fine job with a dark role here as Robert. The guy has the looks but also has this other look to him where he almost doesn’t feel anything, and it gives you this sinister side to him that feels real even though it’s almost too hard to believe some of the things that his character starts doing. Banderas is very good in this role and even though the dude does some pretty terrible things, Banderas still makes him likable and seem like a very reasonable dude. Elena Anaya does a great job as Vera and owns pretty much every scene she has, especially the ones with Banderas. She has a great character arch to her and she really does give it her all just about every scene. It also helps that she’s insanely hot, so that’s definitely something else that will keep your eye on her as well.

Consensus: The Skin I Live In lacks in some elements such as its structure and believability, however Almodovar keeps this weird and bizarre feel the whole time, which gives the film plenty of room to breath with its characters and the performances from the great cast.



  1. I absolutely loved this film! (It is in my Top 10 films of 2011) It has a unique structure that adds to the style of the narrative and wow! what a creative narrative!! Almodovar likes to take his audience on a journey and he has outdone himself this time. The cast is perfect and it is nice to see Antonio Banderas doing what he can do very well…ACT! (and not just smolder) 🙂

  2. I thought the film was nothing less than superb. Really well made and with a great twist this film will work great on second viewing too I suspect.

  3. I always find Almodovar films to be a bit polarizing. He really isn’t for everyone but there is just something unique and interesting about his films and the actors that play out the roles. The Skin I Live In is a prime example of his work which is unique and might not be widely accepted by audiences. His creative narrative and story structure is the thing that draws me into every film. That and he casts Penelope Cruz in a lot of his movies. Nice review!

  4. Being an Almodovar fan, I knew he was going to try and take risks. Boy, did he and it worked. It was great to see Antonio Banderas back in an Almodovar film for more that 20 years. It was great to see that Almodovar was willing to be dangerous which he hasn’t been for some time. He’s one of the best filmmakers working today.

  5. One of the many films I missed out on seeing last year in the cinema. I’m a fan of Almodovar’s work and Banderas. Also, anything deliciously dark, I kinda love. Looking forward to catching this.

  6. Great review. It was my movie of the year. Loved the fact that the first half of the movie had you asking all these questions about what was going on and once the twist happens and you start getting answers you really are asking yourself if you really wanted those answers. It’s a movie you’ll think about a while after you’ve seen it.

  7. Someone spoiled the surprise for me before I got to see this, and I was totally bummed out. I would’ve liked to have been as shocked as everyone else. But I still enjoyed it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s