Friday, 7 October 2011

The Skin I Live In, dir/scr. Pedro Almodóvar, based on 'Tarantula' by Thierry Jonquet, st. Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes

It makes sense for Pedro Almodóvar's familiar obsessions with family, gender, sex and death to culminate in something so richly audacious, for here the envelope is indeed pushed further than ever; The Skin I Live In is a truly harrowing film-noir, with its two leads - Banderas and Anaya - riffing on their real-life sex-symbol status to unsettling effect. There are literary references to Shelley's Frankenstein most obviously, but it also reminded me of Juan José Campanella's The Secret In Their Eyes in its depiction of just how far someone is willing to go in order to right wrongs, to overturn an injustice cruelly imposed upon them personally, their loved ones, or from a simple desire for good to triumph over evil. For such a macabre and unwieldily plot, there's a Romantic lyricism at work here, from Alberto Iglesias swoony score to Almodóvar's use of light, colour and direction, or choreography might be a better word, as he conjures all manner of balletic shapes from Anaya, clad for the most part in a skin-tight, flesh-coloured body-stocking - the very image of a human maquette. Calling this a foray into the horror genre seems to me to  unfairly burden this film with the suggestion of style over content, when nothing could be further from the truth; this is smart psychological drama at its finest and most academic.