An arguably perverse, elegantly crafted melodrama from Pedro Almodovar heartily tows the cinematic line in a quality edge-of-your-seat way.
The Skin I Live In (in Spanish with English subtitles) reunites Almodovar with Antonio Banderas after a long absence that often comes across as an interesting morality tale with surging, unpredictable progressions.
The confident, audacious auteur has Banderas back in good form as Dr. Robert Ledgard, a notable plastic surgeon who's undertake much risk and study in developing a new synthetic "miracle" skin.
The influences of Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock are felt in a nonlinear narrative cleverly shaded in a production similarly touched by individuality (through a person's face) and vengeance without being over-the-top.
An idyllic, remote setting of Robert's swank residence is well established, pushing his cellular therapy to the limit in a new patient Vera (Elena Anaya). Vera's looked after by the sharp, unscrupulous skin-transplant doctor and his childhood nanny Marilia (Marisa Paredes). Though the procedure has literally altered her own skin, she hasn't lost her identity.
Almodovar keenly delves into Robert's surreptitious past involving a young man (Jan Cornet) after the suicide of his teen daughter (Blanca Suarez). And, through the awful demise of his wife during a car accident.
Banderas and Anaya, the film's true protagonist, are effective among the rest of the performers in subtle character internalization. The latter having a patience and endurance that commands attention for what is trenchant but not really that ambitious.
There's enough on the cutting-room floor to allow for an ominous, wild potboiler with some eye-raising shifts as Robert (a charmingly mad Banderas) and Vera gradually find a new understanding with one another to say the least.
Again the imaginative filmmaker uses hues and the power of suggestion through his talented craftsmen to stir in more intimacy and intensity up to the oddly brusque conclusion. The rich, crisp lensing of Jose Luis Alcaine, score, and design work smoothly support the emotional underpinnings in the characters and an exploitative, shaded arc. Having an actress like Parades at his disposal is always a plus and unexpected support from Robert Alamo as her tiger-looking son when the action pivots on a Carnival.