ABOUT FACE Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya in The Skin I Live In

The Skin I Live In

The gleaming surface of Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In seduces the eye with exactly the kind of beauty we’ve come to expect from the Spanish auteur whose triumphs in mid-career include All About My Mother and Talk to Her. But now he wants to explore existential skin-related notions as far-reaching as what it takes to be comfortable in one’s own and what one suffers when one is not. As a result, this hermetic, inward-turning movie may feel, on first viewing, like a disconcerting promenade through a hall of mirrors, with jarring stops at a horror house along the way. (The zigzags reveal their purpose on a second viewing.)

Antonio Banderas honors the filmmaker who launched his career with a perfectly chilling performance as a Frankenstein-like plastic surgeon obsessed with developing a new kind of literal skin; astonishingly blemish-free Elena Anaya from Talk to Her plays his human guinea pig; and the redoubtable Marisa Paredes, a quintessential Almodóvar player since 1983, takes a crucial role as a woman who knows the truth behind everyone’s masks. Allusions to Vertigo, Rebecca, and Georges Franju’s great 1960 French horror movie Eyes Without a Face are intentional: The Skin I Live In is, above all, the creation of a movie fanatic who loves to look. B+

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The Skin I Live In
  • Movie
  • 117 minutes