Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is a driven plastic surgeon haunted by personal tragedies. After many years of trial and error, he finally perfects a new skin – a shield which could have prevented the death of his wife in an accident years earlier. His latest “guinea pig” is a mysterious captive whose true identity masks a shocking mystery. The Skin I Live In
is a masterful tale of secrets, obsession and revenge from Oscar-winning (Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Talk to Her
, 2002) writer/director Pedro Almodovar.
For his maiden voyage into horror, Spanish maestro Pedro Almodóvar leaves the gore behind for a plunge into truly disturbing territory. If he suggests more than he shows, the human body still takes center stage, starting with Toledo plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (a chillingly understated Antonio Banderas), who did his best to restore his wife to her former glory after a fiery car crash, only to have his efforts be in vain. Since then, he's concentrated on a skin substitute that repels damage. Like Dr. Frankenstein, he's a single-minded obsessive, and even his housekeeper, Marilia (Marisa Paredes), describes him as "crazy," but that doesn't dim her devotion to him any less. After tragedy reenters Ledgard's life, he finds the perfect subject on which to test out his superhuman skin. Almodóvar begins in the present before backtracking six years to explain how Vera (Elena Anaya) came to Ledgard's attention. Now, he keeps her locked in a room through which he observes her every move via surveillance cameras and one-way glass. At all times, she wears a surprisingly flattering body stocking in order to heal properly, and spends her days reading Alice Munro novels and making Louise Bourgeois-inspired sculptures until Marilia's hotheaded son drops by, at which point the household dynamics spin out of control. In adapting Thierry Jonquet's Tarantula
, Almodóvar has embarked on his most perfectly controlled project. Like the lovely Vera, the film offers cool, attractive surfaces, but the secret behind the woman and the world she inhabits will chill you to the bone. --Kathleen C. Fennessy