The Skin I Live In (La Piel Que Habito) (2011)

PEDRO ALMODOVAR

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

Spain, 2011, , , , , , .  Screenplay by Pedro Almodovar, collaboration with , based on the novel Tarantula by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Agustin Almodovar, .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Cannes Film Festival 2011Golden Globe Awards 2011Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2011.   Toronto International Film Festival 2011Washington Film Critics Awards 2011.  

Precise, disturbing and elegant psychological thriller from Pedro Almodovar, who moves away from the melodramatic depths of previous works to show himself a master filmmaker equally adept at using a story to cut sharper edges.   is excellent as a plastic surgeon who lives in his near-abandoned clinic home with a trapped patient () upon whom he performs his experiments for skin perfection.   is equally scintillating as the housekeeper who is loyal to her employer but, like him, has plenty of skeletons in her closet. Shades of Franju’s Eyes Without A Face abound in this adaptation of “Tarantula” by Thierry Jonquet, but what is amazing is the skill and control with which Almodovar tells his story. There are hallmarks of his style everywhere, the visual splendor, the small arcs and flashbacks of the narrative, and the opportunities for some poignant touches of character sensitivity, but it’s a leaner, meaner piece of work than he’s ever done, and fans of the bountiful pathos of All About My Mother and Talk To Her might not appreciate the new direction. Watch it without prejudice, however, and you’ll be thrilled by the brilliant acting (Anaya is particularly surprising) and the delicious twists and surprises that the story has to offer.

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