Arch provocateur Pedro Almodóvar reunites with his 1980s leading man Antonio Banderas for the dark thriller The Skin I Live In, the first time the pair have worked together since the heady days of such films as Law of Desire, Matador, Women on a Nervous Breakdown and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!
On the surface, which in this case is slick, smooth and highly glossy, their new film is far removed from the sometimes scuzzy and usually outrageous films they made in their youth; but probe a little deeper, beneath the epidermis as it were, and it’s clear that their latest collaboration is equally transgressive.
A mix of creepy horror and seductive melodrama, The Skin I Live In reveals its secrets gradually. The plot is twisted; its protagonist even more so. Banderas is a plastic surgeon, a profession that boasts more than its fair share of horror movie villains. He lives in a splendid mansion outside Toledo, the Spanish city famous for the keenness of its blades. And like his mad scientist precursors, Banderas’s Dr Ledgard is in pursuit of an illicit, taboo-breaking goal.
Hidden from view in his secluded estate, El Cigarral, he is developing an artificial skin from a fusion of human and pig genes. His unwilling test subject is a beautiful young woman named Vera (Elena Anaya) held captive in the mansion. Ledgard’s asserted aim is to benefit humanity, but beneath the illicit science his true purpose is to remake Vera in the image of his dead wife. Though just how far he is prepared to go in his quest, the film cunningly withholds from the viewer…
Released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday 26th December by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.