English Title: The Skin I Live In
Original Title: La piel que habito
Genre: Thriller, Drama
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Music: Alberto Iglesias
Cinematography: José Luis Alcaine
José Luis Gómez
A daunting incompetence of fulfillment from an Almodóvar film is palatable after watching his latest uncannily B-movie skin-alteration thriller. The film has been persistently absorbing to its viewers from A to Z, thanks to a non-linear narration fashion (like BROKEN EMBRACES 2009), a tantalizingly lurid color palette, a magnificently orchestrated score, and a brilliant cast.
So where the incompetent sentiment exactly originates from? The unimaginative dialogues (outsiders’ trashy talking in an imitated bio-medical clique) and an inexplicable why-they-do-that exposition throttles the consummation of a full-blown frisson, a few question marks lingering abidingly (e.g. Vera’s character’s initial response to the operation is bizarrely understated).
As an Almodóvar-tagged film, a nub of identity confusion is more blatant and visually aggressive this time, often the camera deftly pans out and renders enough space and time for miniature details, the noir-accessorized surroundings, including the chilling glass lab, the monitored room and a youngsters’ night orgy on the grass, not to mention the inside decoration of doctor’s villa, plain Almodóvaresque!
Antonio Banderas leads a protean Spanish cast, Elena Anaya, a stand-in for the pregnant Penélope Cruz is breathtaking not only for her physique contour (if there is no double), but in the subtle inner revelation of her character as well (although a bit underdeveloped due to the inept script). Almodóvar’s longtime collaborator Marisa Paredes and the newcomer Jan Cornet are both radiating great forms in their screen time.
Almodóvar is still one of my favorite directors nowadays, maybe TSILI fails to live up to his vintage standard, but it is also auspicious for groupies to revel in his continuously extended output from other wackily diverting fields.