Pedro Almodóvar is back at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, this time with the premiere of La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I live In), an added science-fiction thriller twist, intertwined with Almodóvar’s thematic companions of sexuality, identity, betrayal, anxiety; comprising a melodramatic hybrid that only Almodóvar can convincingly pull off.
Based on the novel “Mygale” by Thierry Jonquet, The Skin I live In‘s cast includes Antonio Banderas as the mad- scientist/plastic surgeon protagonist Dr. Robert Ledgard and Elena Anaya who plays Vera: the object of Dr. Ledgard’s research.
Ever since his wife was burned in a car crash, Dr. Robert Ledgard, an eminent plastic surgeon, has been interested in creating a new skin with which he could have saved her. After twelve years, he manages to cultivate a skin that is a real shield against every assault. In addition to years of study and experimentation, Robert needed a further three things: no scruples, an accomplice and a human guinea pig. Scruples were never a problem. Marilia, the woman who looked after him from the day he was born, is his most faithful accomplice. And as for the human guinea pig…. –Cannes Film Festival
It seems that extensive extrapolation on the story would perhaps diminish the stories impact; as Kirk Honeycutt writes in the Hollywood Reporter:
“To describe any further the story, written by Agustin and Pedro Almodóvar from a novel by Thierry Jonquet, would spoil several surprises. While Almodóvar is clearly rummaging through old films and film genres that by his own admission include Buñuel, Hitchcock, Lang and Franju as well as Hammer horror and Dario Argento kitsch, he mostly is going after the theme of identity. As the old saying goes, beauty is only skin deep, to which Almodóvar adds that skin can only encase one’s identity or soul. For the skin can change, the soul cannot….Robert is both a father figure and Frankenstein creator who seeks to dominate all women and eliminate male rivals. Yet Almodóvar treats him as “mad” and therefore not fully responsible for his villainy. He is the product of a twisted family and household. The women in his life — his wife, daughter and the guinea pig — all suffer because he has suffered. So Almodóvar’s embrace of his crazed characters is a tender one, full of passion and comic glee. The film’s design, costumes and music, especially Alberto Iglesias’ music, present a lushly beautiful setting, which is nonetheless a prison and house of horror. Almodóvar pumps his movie full of deadly earnestness and heady emotions. There are well-timed laughs that lessen the melodrama and underscore that Almodóvar remains ever a prankster. No one is better at tying imagery to emotions, yet even Almodóvar realizes that, as Hitchcock would say, “It’s only a movie, Ingrid.”
Peter Bradshaw writing for the Guardian tells of how The Skin I Live In kept him “gripped from first to last. The sheer muscular confidence of Almodóvar’s film-making language gives it force, and co-exists with a dancer’s elegance and grace. Without this, the story could look strained and farcical. Instead, its bizarre passions are compelling. Almodóvar brings something hypnotic to the surgery-porn aesthetic of his operating theatre of cruelty: the latex, the scrubs, the cold steel, the exquisite yet appalling contrast between wounds and young flesh. It is twisted and mad, and its choreography and self-possession are superb.”
The Latino Film Fund waits excitedly for the worldwide release of The Skin I Live In which is set to be in the autumn. For those of you in Spain, the preliminary Spanish release date is 2 September 2011. The film will be released in a limited North American release in November 2011 through Sony Pictures Classics.
More about: Pedro Almodóvar
“I also wanted to express the strength of cinema to hide reality, while being entertaining. Cinema can fill in the empty spaces of your life and your loneliness.”
“Splashing his colorful films across the dour post-Franco Spanish landscape with the irreverent glee of a prostitute arriving late to church after a long night, Pedro Almodóvar has been called the most influential Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel. Beginning in the 1980s, Almodóvar started serving up provocative, candy-colored visions fraught with postmodernist insight into everything from sex and violence to religion and the dangers of good gazpacho. Sometimes shocking, sometimes controversial, Almodóvar’s films have always managed to present a new and intriguing view of his native country, shaping the attitudes of both his compatriots and a larger international audience.” (Read more here)
The Skin I Live In
La Piel Que Habito
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Producer: Pedro Almodóvar, Agustín Almodóvar
Screenplay: Pedro Almodóvar
Cinematography: José Luis Alcaine
Set Designer: Antxón Gómez
Music: Alberto Iglesias
Film Editor: José Salcedo
Sound: Iván Marín