Thursday, 5 February 2015

Review: The Skin I Live In / La Piel Que Habito

I can't believe I haven't seen…

The Skin I Live In / La Piel Que Habito Poster

The Skin I Live In / La Piel Que Habito (2011)
Cert: 15 / 117 mins / Dir. Pedro Almodóvar / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

Okay, this may well be the most fucked up tale of rape, murder, domestic imprisonment and forced gender reassignment surgery I've seen this year. I'd like to say that The Skin I Live In isn't quite as weird as I've made it sound, but it pretty much is.

Pedro Almodóvar directs and pens the screenplay like a modern-day Hitchcock, bringing an unrelenting claustrophobia but never losing the narrative thread (although the film starts as borderline-unbelievable and never leaves that zone). Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes and Jan Cornet all act their nuts off (literally in one of their cases), as the story of unhinged dermatological surgeon Robert Ledgard (Banderas) weaves its merry way through twelve years of chloroformed, incestuous turmoil. That Almodóvar does this without resorting to shock-value, relying instead on the escalating weirdness like an arty, less sadistic, Human Centipede, is to his credit. Although it's also worth pointing out that the audience is saved from becoming too emotionally engaged by having pretty much no characters to root for*1.

The film isn't without its moments of dark humour, but they're very dark indeed, and few and far between. It certainly sits oddly with the director's later film, 2013's airline-based satirical comedy I'm So Excited. I'd like to say I'd recommend this film, but the bleak nature of the content will sit uncomfortably with many viewers (and rightly so), and as much as I admire how it's assembled, I can't see me watching it again any time soon.

Have you really never seen this before?
I haven't. It was a little too arthouse for my local.

So are you glad you've finally have?
I think so.

And would you recommend it, now?
Probably not, in all honesty.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Antonio Banderas starred in The Expendables 3, as did Captain Solo himself, Harrison Ford.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 The sole exception to this being Ledgard's daugher Norma, played with unnerving ease by Blanca Suárez.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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