Antonio Banderas heads the cast in this gripping and very dark thriller about Dr. Robert Ledgard, an eminent plastic surgeon who tries to create a new, tougher human skin which could have saved his wife from burning to death.
Though the above paragraph neatly sums up the film’s starting point, Pedro Almodóvar’s film is actually far more complex with plot twists and developments even the most seasoned cinema-goers will find themselves surprised and shocked by.
Reviewers have sworn not to reveal anything else about the plot but trust me, it is utterly gripping, very tensely told and manages to be both hugely complex and incredibly straightforward at the same time.
Banderas delivers his best work in ages, shorn of the Hollywood latin lover stereotype he’s free to showcase a depth of performance few previous roles have hinted at.
As Ledgard he proves that – done properly – ‘dark’ isn’t a monolithic style of acting, it’s an entire colour range with hues, tones and subtleties through which a decent actor can move back and forward to tease the audience’s perception of, and reaction to, a character.
Alongside Banderas the film has two other main cast members, Elena Anaya as patient Vera Cruz and Marisa Paredes as Marilia, Ledgard’s servant but to give these performances the full praise they deserve would take me perilously close hinting at plot developments.
It will have to suffice to say that both rise to the quality of the material with Paredes especially good in a part which at first seems to be of little consequence.
By the end of the film I’d felt just about every emotion possible, there are characters to loathe, to sympathise with, to fear for and to hope for – often at the same time.
Few films, even the truly great ones, do that so it’s a testament to all involved that The Skin I Live In pulls it off so successfully.
Did I forget to mention the film is entirely in Spanish? Actually I did so deliberately in the hope that even those who don’t normally like foreign language films would be intrigued enough by what they’ve read above to venture along.
A truly great film which draws from some of the most famous and enduring novels ever written, The Skin I Live In deserves to become a classic in its own right.
The Skin I Live In is released across the UK on 26th August.