Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Empire Blogs
Cannes 2011

Back to all blogs Comment Now

The Skin I Live In

Posted on Thursday May 19, 2011, 10:34 by Damon Wise in Cannes 2011
The Skin I Live In

After yesterday's disappointment with Melancholia, I'm very, very glad to report that Pedro Almodovar's latest is one of his strongest in years. Called The Skin I Live In, it stars Antonio Banderas – who last worked with the Spanish legend on Tie Me Up Tie Me Down (1990) – as a plastic surgeon with, shall we say, a very dark secret. It's hard to know what to reveal and what not to reveal, since this is a film that's packed with plot and detail. Perhaps it's simply safe to say that when we first meet Banderas's character, the inscrutable Robert Ledgard, he is an ambitious and perhaps even ruthless scientist, who is pushing for the use of “transgenesis” – a form of genetic engineering – and in particular a new, synthetic skin that will be tougher than the human kind and impervious to mosquito bites. Robert lives in a remote home-slash-clinic with his housekeeper Marilia (Marisa Paredes)  and the beautiful Vera (Elena Anaya), who wears an all-in-one skin suit and never leaves her room. But who is Vera? There are plenty of red herrings delivered throughout, but the best way to approach this film is cold: you need to let it unfold.

I wasn't sure at first which way Almodovar was going, but the surprise is that it's going in many different directions all at the same time. The opening scenes are somewhat gothic, replete with an old dark house setting (all that's missing is a thunderstorm), and the housekeeper's story is just the first of many surprises. From here, the film transitions into a Hitchcockian (or is it giallo-style?) thriller, filmed with Almodovar's usual gorgeous palette, here looking perhaps a bit more like the shadowy Roger Corman films of the early 60s (the Edgar Allen Poe cycle) than his recent Technicolour fiestas. Is Corman a reference here? Could be, since The Skin I Live in also a film buff's dream, starting with a direct nod to Georges Franju's Eyes Without A Face and ending with a little joke about Robert Aldrich that managed to bring the house down even at its most tense.

The great thing about this film is that Amodovar has finally found a way to make his style work within noir/thriller conventions. I found Bad Education too knowing, Broken Embraces too slight, but The Skin I Live In not only works as a genre piece it also recalls the early, funny movies from the heyday leading to Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. Of course, the plot is berserk, but who cares? Banderas is at a career high here, and Anaya plays a complex part brilliantly while projecting an appearance of passive, stunning beauty. Almodovar has been robbed of the Palme D'Or many times, but if he doesn't win this year, there better be something brilliant to beat it.

Login or register to comment.

Currently No Comments

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (440)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (35)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Final report: The Kid With A Bike, Le Havre, Michael, Walk Away Renee, The Murder, Oslo 31 August
By Damon Wise

This Must Be The Place
By Damon Wise

The Artist
By Damon Wise

Drive
By Damon Wise

Cannes Videblogisode #9
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #8
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #7
By Amar Vijay

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 6
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #6
By Amar Vijay

The Skin I Live In
By Damon Wise


RECENT COMMENTS

Drive
"So it's more of an 80s homage? Judging by the title, as well as the theme, I thought this would be a"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #6
"Good 'un!"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #8
"I live my life like I'm in a Carry On film, Megan."  Chris Hewitt
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #8
"My bra just fell off LOL amazing Carry On film vibe there. Have to say though, Chris is scarier when"  megank13
Read comment

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 6
"★good★ look love--- w w w - jordansforking - c o m   qeedsss
Read comment

Melancholia
"More on this will follow in the magazine later; I met Lars after the banning and heard his views on "  Damon_Wise
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #6
"Heh hee hee hee. So, Chris, twitter profile pic now, right?"  Ethanial
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #4
"Is that the young Mike Cimino playing "Neil LaBute?"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 4
"Fair point usually but in that dress I think we should make an exception for Cheryl"  ErnestWilde
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #4
"Aha. Sam informs me that he had to cross the line as his original shooting angle would have ended up"  Chris Hewitt
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Cannes 2011: Tree Of Life: First Reaction
13 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #2
8 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #5
7 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #4
5 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #6
3 comments

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 4
3 comments

Cannes 2011: The Tree Of Life
2 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #1
2 comments

Melancholia
2 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #8
2 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (297)
Helen O'Hara (168)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
Ian Nathan (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
David Parkinson (1)

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Future Of Film: The Streaming Services Will Be Major Studios
(Or how Hollywood will have to start worrying about Netflix)

The Empire Podcast #129: Liam Neeson Interview
Plus Max Irons, Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth, Holliday Grainger and Jessica Brown Findlay drop by to talk The Riot Club

The Future Of Film: We'll Be Watching Films In Virtual Reality
Immerse cinema aims to become the must-have experience for the filmgoers of the future

The Future Of Film: Cinema Will Cross The Uncanny Valley
The future of VFX, from believable digital humans to underwater mocap

The Future Of Film: There Will Be Another Indie Golden Age
Independent producers are growing from micro-budgets to something a lot bigger

Empire's Epic Interstellar Subscribers' Cover
The countdown begins to Christopher Nolan's sci-fi masterpiece

Shut Up, World! Gary Busey Is Talking!
Strap yourselves in and meet a true Hollywood original.

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)