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The Skin I Live In


Jeff Nelson

The Skin I Live In is a foreign art-house thriller that dares to be different and succeeds.

The Skin I Live In
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Mindless entertainment is great to unwind to at the end of a busy day, but what happened to the films that are refreshingly original and make us think? These are films that American audiences rarely come upon. In fact, the small doses we get of it is from other countries. The Skin I Live In is intense, dramatic, and passionate. I found myself engrossed from the moment it began until its conclusion. This is the type of filmmaking that deserves much more recognition than it receives. The only locations where this piece of cinema can be viewed is in a select few theaters for a limited time. Catch it if you can.

A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig is a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession. As the film begins, viewers will have no idea what is going on. The filmmaker leaves the audience to piece the puzzle together instead of simply spoon feeding everything to us. The timeline is well-crafted and paced. The plot jumps forwards and backwards in time in order for us to understand different perspectives from a variety of characters. This is primarily a character study and truly dissects the characters, giving them a lot of depth for the viewers to decide who they decide to root for. There's a little bit of violence and quite a bit of sex. However, it's all necessary to the story and what it's trying to get across. The Skin I Live In is sure to restore the faith in those who believe the story lines in cinema has lost its way over the years.

Along with the well-written script is a more than capable cast. Antonio Banderas performs as Robert Ledgard and is extremely believable and natural in the role. Elena Anaya is Vera Cruz and expresses a large amount of emotion, which genuinely shows. Jan Cornet plays Vicente, who does a great job as well. As much as I would enjoy dwelling deeper on the acting, it may begin to unveil spoilers. I refuse to ruin this film for those who plan on seeing it, so I will stop at my statement that these actors are terrific in the roles.

The first component audiences will notice is the striking cinematography and visuals. It's quite exceptional and breathes life into the atmosphere. There are many controversial events that take place within the running time that are somehow transformed into something beautiful by the cinematographer and crew. American filmmakers should certainly take notes as this is proven to be very effective.

There isn't very much that I didn't like about The Skin I Live In. If I was to list elements I didn't enjoy, it would be nitpicking. This film caught me off guard and delivered very well. The slower pacing may concern some viewers, but it's never a boring movie. The plot, acting, and visuals create an extremely immersive experience. This is a weird movie that not many audiences in America have been able to see before. However, change in this case is welcome. The Skin I Live In is a foreign art-house thriller that dares to be different and succeeds.

My Rating = Four Stars

Next movie: Planet of the Apes (2001)
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