Monday, February 13, 2012


THE SKIN I LIVE IN is undoubtedly one of the strangest and most disturbing films I have ever seen. It is very different from Almodovar's past films and not at all what I expected, although I have to admit that I really liked it a lot. Most critics are calling it a thriller, but it's really more in the mentality of a horror film. It reminded me a lot of the relatively obscure French horror film EYES WITHOUT A FACE (Les Yeux sans Visage, my review here). Both deal with crazy, obsessed doctors performing unwanted plastic surgery on a kidnap victim, and both have characters who were badly burned in car crashes.

This is also clearly influenced by one of my favorite films, Vertigo, in the main character's clear attempt to recreate a love that has been lost to death. Add to that the usual sexual identity questions in Almodovar's films, and you have one of the weirdest films you will ever see. It is definitely NOT a film for everyone. Fans of the romance in Almodovar's other films will probably puke watching this film. But I did enjoy the psychological elements quite a bit. Audiences are very divided on the film, although yesterday it won the BAFTA award (British Academy) for Best Foreign Language film.

The film does have its problems. The narrative structure is quite messy. It's adapted from a novel, and I'm guessing all the explanatory dialogue and flashbacks worked a lot better in the novel than they do in the movie. There's a lot that happened before the movie begins. Much of that is explained in dialogue in the first third of the film. That was already starting to feel a little tedious, but then the film suddenly does a very lengthy SIX YEARS EARLIER flashback sequence that completely interrupts the flow of the film and makes you wonder who all these new characters are and what they have to do with the plot. Yes, there's a reason they tell the story that way, it has one of the all-time great plot twists, but I suspect that there was a better way to keep that surprise without the narrative interruptions.

Nonetheless I would recommend this film, particularly to fans of psycho-sexual thrillers and subtle horror films. This one will stick in my subconscious for a long, long time.


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