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La piel que habito (2011)
The impossible film to pitch. Horror at it's best.
"The Skin I Live In" is, like most films by the Spanish director a film that cannot be pitched or explained in a few sentences. I am reminded of his superb work in "Talk to her" and "All about my mother". "Talk to her" was a love story between a woman in a coma and her rapist while Mother was a film about a nun with AIDS, a transvestite with a hearth of gold and a woman searching for her son's heart. In one sentence Almodovar's films all sound twisted at best. But in the hands of a master they are beautiful works of art. Same goes for "The Skin I Live In". In a sentence (like many who haven't watched the film are quick to point out) the film sounds creepy at best and deals with a plot that makes most uncomfortable.
A plastic surgeon (Banderas) belongs to family straight out of Pasolini's Salo. He keeps a beautiful woman (Anaya) as a guinea pig and he tries to create a new kind of skin. But Anaya's character, in what seems the major metaphor of the film, preserves her inner persona intact regardless of what happens to her body. As in most of Almodovar's films the layers become more complex as the movie evolves and towards the end of the film there's a plot twist only Freud could have come up with.
Without spoilers I would like to point out that the director seems to use horror as a channel to explore the violation of every moral code embodied by the characters. With a magnificent score by Alberto Iglesias, Almodovar tries for a difficult genre and it pays off. The set design and cinematography, as always with Pedro's films is superb. At Canes the reception of the film was mixed an I can understand why. It simply isn't an easy movie to watch. For those who don't seem to have a problem with American horror movies where teens are stalked, raped and cut into little pieces by a chainsaw but are horrified by "The Skin I live In" I have a suggestion: Let's remember that fiction is indeed the only place when one can deal with horror and gore as metaphors for our human flaws, a place where we don't have to hide from our demons but we get to talk to them, a place where sickness gets no one hurt... Like Hitchcock used to say: It is only a movie, dear.