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"The Skin I Live In" Review

Critics hailed the reteaming of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar and Antonio Banderas after over 20 years on The Skin I Live In with the usual encomiums the legendary filmmaker receives for his work, but in this case they were misplaced; an example - like with Christopher Nolan's faceplant of The Dark Knight Reloaded - of past greatness earning an undeserved pass for current inadequacy.  (81% at Rotten Tomatoes? Really?) Presumably it was the supposedly shocking twist in the story that enthralled the easily impressed, but somehow Almodóvar manages to make it both banal and silly.

Banderas is a brilliant surgeon who has been experimenting on development of artificial skin for treating burn patients and has been using some ethically bad methods starting with using animal DNA (which he cops to his scientific peers) and working on a human patient (which he doesn't). Did I say patient? I meant to say the woman he has captive in his estate whom he has transformed into a near replica of his deceased wife. Who is this woman? And what's with the freaky thug in the Carnival tiger costume who shows up to rape her?

We're slowly let in on the details of the doctor's sad life and the loss of his family and how he deals with one of those losses is the supposedly shocking twist and where The Skin I Live In really stops making sense. Once you learn what's going on, it makes the relatively sterile manner with which these developments are played out all the more dull.

If you're going to go this crazy with your story, then go all-out batsh*t nuts with it and play it as over the top as possible. I'm thinking something blatantly operatic and theatrical as Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Make everyone overact and perhaps the drama and horror would've caught fire. As it is, the plot sounds more interesting that it plays out, as I had to explain it to my girlfriend who'd fallen asleep during the viewing, but thought it sounded interesting when I filled in the blanks.

Score: 3/10. Skip it.


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