The Skin I Live In (‘La Piel Que Habito’)

THRILLER; 1hr 57min (Spanish with subtitles)

STARRING: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Roberto Álamo

Power play: Banderas and Anaya

Distinguished plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Banderas, coolly measuring every weighted moment) is up to no good in the lab of his elegant, ultra-secluded Spanish home. Transgenic therapy — the creation of artificial, highly resilient skin — has become his obsession after his late wife was horribly burned in a car crash. It’s illegal, let alone when applied to a flawless human test model (Anaya as Vera). In the meantime, the doctor’s devoted housekeeper, accomplice and lifetime carer Marilia (Paredes) has pressing issues with her demented son (Álamo).


Crazy all round is the watchword for director Pedro Almodóvar’s stylishly macabre thriller, based on Thierry Jonquet’s 2003 novel Mygale. The incredible and the creepy are entwined in a spiral of riddles about the abuse of power and the misuse of identity — with a nod to the potential dangers of sex. Almodóvar holds it all together with masterful calm: the more twisted the situation becomes, the more disquietingly understated is his approach, until the outrageous and the unforgivable make completely unique sense.