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The Skin I Live In (2011)
"La piel que habito" (original title)

R  |   |  Thriller  |  2 September 2011 (Spain)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 94,915 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 142 user | 404 critic | 37 from Metacritic.com

A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 24 wins & 63 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Roberto Álamo ...
Presidente del Instituto de Biotecnología
Norma Ledgard
Susi Sánchez ...
Madre de Vicente
Chema Ruiz ...
Buika ...
Cantante (as Concha Buika)
Ana Mena ...
Norma joven
Teresa Manresa ...
Casilda Efraiz


In honor of his late wife who died in a flaming car accident, scientist, Dr. Robert Ledgard, is trying to synthesize the perfect skin which can withstand burns, cuts or any other kind of damage. As he gets closer to perfecting this skin on his flawless patient, the scientific community starts growing skeptical and his past is revealed that shows how his patient is closely linked to tragic events he would like to forget. Written by napierslogs

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rape | transgender | skin | suicide | key | See All (176) »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing violent content including sexual assault, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 September 2011 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

Koža u kojoj živim  »

Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$223,119 (USA) (14 October 2011)


$3,185,193 (USA) (23 March 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Pedro Almodóvar worked on the screenplay for almost a decade, and what initially was an adaptation ended up being more of a story inspired by Thierry Jonquet's novel. See more »


When Doctor Robert Ledgard and his colleague are preparing themselves for the surgery they wear sterile gloves and then tie each other clothes from the back, that is considered non sterile, so they will contaminate the surgery. See more »


[first lines]
Marilia: [to servant] Help me with the dumbwaiter.
See more »


Featured in At the Movies: Cannes Film Festival 2011 (2011) See more »


Petite fleur
Written by Sidney Bechet
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Almodovar does body horror...but not really
25 August 2011 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

As a longtime fan of Pedro Almodovar's films, I will admit the trailer for his latest film The Skin I Live In left me somewhat baffled. Having now seen the film however, I see the method in his madness. The trailer tells you little or nothing about the film but bombards the viewer with crazy images which are in retrospect probably designed to confuse. The trailer serves the purpose of telling the viewer very little of what the film is about while titillating with striking visuals. A bold move but an effective one, because the less you know about this film going in the better.

With that in mind, I'll keep this review short and will try not to give anything away. Antonio Banderas plays a rather unhinged scientist who is keeping a beautiful young woman prisoner in his home while using her as a human guinea pig for a new type of synthetic human skin. That's about as much information as you need. As the story unfolds, petal by petal in that flower-like way we've become accustomed to seeing from Almodovar, each scene adds wonder and flavour to an already robust set-up. Moving at a break-neck pace, not a frame is without beauty and not a second is wasted without pushing the story along. This screenplay is extremely polished and beautifully nuanced.

As usual, cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine delivers beautifully vibrant visuals, but unlike other Almodovar films, this palette is decidedly less colourful, sticking mainly to Cronenbergian metallic colours fused with fleshy tones but with the odd gash of vibrant colour. It is as beautiful to behold as any other Almodovar film, but perhaps less garish.

In a film that relies on ambiguity in so many ways the cast here must be commended. Delicate balances are achieved by all concerned and it's wonderful to see Antonio Banderas settling into the rather unsettling role of Dr. Robert Ledgard. He exudes the same charisma and sexual bravura that made him famous but without the least whiff of sex symbol status coming through in the performance. He is creepy, strangely alluring and underplays the "mad scientist" bit admirably. Elena Anayas also impresses in a very challenging performance both physically and emotionally, both of which are perfectly effective as her story unfolds. A brilliant character who may not have been so impressive in the hands of a less capable actress. The camera intimately caresses her face and body throughout and she steadfastly rises to the challenge of being as beautiful a muse as a director could ask for.

It is unlikely that Almodovar will win over any new fans with The Skin I Live In but he will surely satisfy his already massive fanbase. A dark, thoughtful, frightening piece but never shying away from the heights of melodrama that Almodovar is known for, this sits beautifully on the line between Cronenberg at his best and a crazy soap opera.

Unique, Gothic and delightfully melodramatic! I love it!


134 of 168 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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