By Gautier Coiffard
When I saw the poster for the new Pedro Almodovar film in front of my theater, I was, of course, thrilled. Almodovar is the director about whom you never know what will come next as his movie unreels. Every new picture he makes is completely different from his others, yet you can tell it’s one of his babies.
Let’s analyze the spiel about the film that you will find in many magazines: “Since his woman had her skin burned in an accident, Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is trying to create a new skin.” You will read that it’s a movie about a man fighting against time to save his beloved wife.
Let me bring in a new way to describe the plot: it’s a movie about a crazy man, who is very smart and is talented in the medical arts. And you can’t expect less from a man of this kind than to do crazy freaking things.
Okay, that’s for the story itself. Now what is the subject of the movie? Well no more or no less than what its title says: “The Skin I Live In.” Just look away from your wonderful computer screen, and take a look at your body. You might love it or hate it, but unless you are as rich as a smartass, you won’t be able to change it. But the question remains, is the skin You? Or is it just an envelope? For Dr. Ledgard, it seems that only the body counts, as we watch him falling in love with someone he hates. He tries to be God and Adam at once, and uses Vera (Elena Anaya) as Eve.
As a matter of fact, the only God in this movie is Pedro Almodovar. Of course, that’s not a surprise. Everything fits together perfectly on the screen. But that’s the story, not the surprises. Each scene brings new elements, but we never know what Pedro A., this crazy version of A. Hitchcock, will show us in the next shot.
The horrible things we see (rape, kidnapping, body modification) are shown so naturally, and with such resignation, that they become even scarier. Some have said that there is a little bit of Almodovar in every character in his movies, but I’m not sure Dr. Ledgard is as crazy as Pedro.
Gautier Coiffard is the European correspondent for the Buffalo Alternative Press/Alt Press Online.
Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In” had its world premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and will be opening across the United States through December.