“The Skin I Live In”
Co-written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar
2011, rated R, 1 hour 57 min.
In Spanish, with English subtitles
When life gives us lemons, we are supposed to make lemonade. Ovid had Pygmalion create his out of an ivory statue. Shaw had Henry Higgins create his from a cockney Eliza Doolittle. Mary Shelley had Dr. Frankenstein make both of his from castoff body parts. In “The Skin I Live In,” masterful Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar has insane plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) make his Vera (Elena Anaya) from – well, let’s don’t get ahead of ourselves.
Almodóvar is internationally famous for highly colorful, melodramatic, satiric, counterculture films. Some might find them shocking, but all kinds of nudity and sex scenes, including rape, are almost common in mainstream films now.
If you think Dr. Ledgard’s views on plastic surgery are weird, you probably have never been exposed to a single episode of “Nip Tuck” which played on FX cable TV for years. Lots weirder.
Like Almodóvar’s other films, there are several plots. Some of them don’t go anywhere, but audiences don’t usually care because we get caught up in the bright color movie fantasy world that Almodóvar truly masters.
In that crazy world, things have their own logic, and Almodóvar, in his own way, brings all the subplots to some kind of a conclusion. We may or may not like them by our normal standards, but we find ourselves accepting the storyteller’s conclusions as legitimately flowing from the movie world we inhabited for that one hour, 57 minutes.
From outside the movie, not many of us may be able to like the characters, what they do, and the consequences they face. For those who can dwell inside the film, it’s bizarrely fascinating, and it’s art.
This isn’t my favorite Almodóvar, which remains 1999’s “All About My Mother,” but it’s still pretty good.
“The Skin I Live In” is loosely based on Thierry Jonquet’s novel Mygale (“Tarantula” in English).
Photo: Still from film.