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The Skin I Live In

By AARON MESH
[THREE DAYS ONLY, REVIVAL] Very particular body-image issues are at the core of The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodovar’s violently outre new movie. It proves that the director’s penchant for physical modification has only grown more pointed—or rounded. It is perhaps the most twisted and unsettling film Almodovar has made (and this is a director whose Talk to Her featured a nurse tenderly raping his comatose patient), but it is not exactly a horror movie. Instead, it is a throwback to golden-age Hollywood’s mad-scientist movies, as if the dress-up games of Vertigo had been conducted by James Whale around the time he made Bride of Frankenstein. The mad scientist, a plastic surgeon to be exact, is played by Antonio Banderas, and he is most certainly insane. Other characters keep mentioning this to him, in case he had forgotten. But Banderas' understated performance recalls the pained dignity of James Mason in Lolita. Likewise, the movie proceeds calmly, through elision and implication, until it becomes a study of how sexuality can be formed through victimization, yet leave room for a sense of self to emerge triumphant. Almodovar takes the elements of classic films—the doctor playing God, the grand staircase, the femme fatale—and splices them into unexpected shapes that turn out to be exactly what you wanted.
 

Special Note

Fifth Avenue Cinema. 7 and 9:30 pm Friday, 3 pm Sunday, Jan. 25-27
 
  • Genres: Drama, Thriller
  • Running Time: 120 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, October 14, 2011
  • Country: Spain
  • Language: Spanish
  • MPAA Rating: R [ Disturbing Violent Content, Drug Use, Graphic Nudity, Language, Sexual Assault, Strong Sexuality ]
  • Critic's Score: A-
  • Starring: Antonio Banderas [Dr. Robert Ledgard], Elena Anaya [Vera], Marisa Paredes [Marilia], Jan Cornet [Vicente], Roberto Álamo [Zeca], Eduard Fernández [Fulgencio], Blanca Suárez [Norma], Susi Sánchez [Vicente's Mother], Bárbara Lennie [Cristina], Fernando Cayo [Doctor], José Luis Gómez [President of the Biotechnology Institute]
  • Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar [Director], Pedro Almodóvar [Screenwriter], Agustín Almodóvar [Screenwriter], Agustín Almodóvar [Producer], Esther García [Producer], José Alcaine [Cinematographer], José Salcedo [Film Editor], Alberto Iglesias [Original Music], Antxón Gómez [Art Director], Luis San Narciso [Casting]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer
 

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