The Skin I Live In

Rated 3.0

The new film by Pedro Almodóvar may be his least interesting effort within recent memory, but it’s still the work of a sly and distinctively original sensibility. Antonio Banderas is featured as a suavely dignified and wildly obsessed plastic surgeon who does fantastical experiments with skin replacements for burn victims. He lives more or less sequestered in his palatial compound/clinic with the longtime family maid Marilla (an ambivalently glowing Marisa Paredes) and an elaborately pampered patient, the comely and ostensibly compliant young woman named Vera who is essentially imprisoned in the clinic. Both women, as it turns out, have complicated and surprising roles in his tumultuous life and particularly in the parts of the recent past that include the tragic deaths of his daughter (Blanca Suárez) and his wife (Bárbara Lennie) and the intrusion of two libidinous young men, one a rapist and the other a hapless suitor. The convoluted, flashback-laden plot mixes sci-fi horror of the mad scientist variety with Almodóvar’s perversely sexy brand of over-the-top domestic melodrama. Elena Anaya is quite striking as the increasingly paradoxical Vera, and Banderas more than holds his own in an uncharacteristically creepy role. Pageant Theatre. Rated R