By Justine Ashley
In 2009, Pedro Almodóvar spoke of a great love for science fiction and horror films. Yet few could anticipate what the Spanish auteur had in store. Imagine the most frightening film you’ve ever seen and chances are ‘Skin’ is far more disturbing. You’ll often find yourself wanting to look away from the screen, which is ironic since the film is an exploration of voyeurism. Regardless of the raw subject matter, it’s clear that the 22-years without an Almodóvar/Antonio Banderas collaboration is a cinematic tragedy.
Banderas stars as Dr. Robert Ledgard, a renowned plastic surgeon who has dedicated himself to finding a tougher form of human skin. Yet he has neglected to inform the medical community that he’s holding a woman (Elena Anaya) captive in order to test his developments on her. During the initial portion of the film, it seems that Robert has some reasonable motivation behind his experiments. He talks of his wife being horribly burned in a car accident before her death and it may be believed that anguish fuels his mania. His attempts to rehabilitate his mentally ill daughter and his growing affection for his prisoner contribute to this.
To see Banderas act in his native Spanish tongue is riveting. As is the fact that even when he is partaking in depraved and inhumane activity, he manages to be alluring. Robert’s grueling surgical experiments and dark obsession with his victim are difficult to stomach but the actor manages to generate sympathy. That is until the rug is yanked out from under the audience. If you prefer a film that won’t haunt you for days…skip this one.
An interview with the director, footage from the NYC Premiere and a making-of.