Review: The Skin I Live In – Cannes Film Festival

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I was lucky enough to attend the Red Carpet screening of this film at the Cannes Film Festival thanks to Stella Artois.

Genre: Drama
Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Staring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes
Released: Cannes Film Festival 2011 – Releasing Late Summer and Fall

THE GENERAL IDEA

Based on Thierry Jonquet’s novel “Mygale”, Robert Ledgard (Banderas) plays a brilliant plastic surgeon determined to develop a new artificial skin. Many obsticles stand in his way, but after his daughter is raped and commits suicide in the resulting depression, Ledgard sees an opportunity for revenge and an unwitting test subject.

THE GOOD

This film has a LOT of depth, and the shocking subject matter and the base humanity or lack thereof is so effectively explored that for some its greatest strength may be considered a flaw. But I will never derail the efforts of a film that is effective in emotionally jarring its viewers, so for me I count its ability to move me among its better qualities.

One of the best things I can see from this film is how Antonia Banderas really knocks it out the park as a serious and deep dramatic actor. Not something I expected to see from the guy who played Puss and Boots and Zorro. This guy has some serious chops that I never expected from him.

And the best villains in film are the ones you can sympathize with. Evil for the sake of evil lacks any depth. This is not a criticism that this film will ever face. Banderas’ character is the victim. Distraught by his daughter’s traumatic ordeals, seeking revenge he crosses a line and becomes evil.

The film as a whole is VERY deep, disturbing, and moving. I say this as a good thing, as every disturbing moment makes you explore why, share in its emotion and impacts the viewer dramatically.

THE BAD

This film may just be a tough pill to swallow for some. Its not a feel good revenge movie like Taken. This movie takes no subtleties in the exploration the most base of human emotion. Even at the Cannes Film Festival where people covet these tickets and attended the film alongside the cast and director, some walked out on the movie for reasons ranging from confusion to pure disgust.

There are also some very dry parts in the middle of the film that drag, and a particularily confusing “tiger rape” scene involving a man in a furry like costume. I didn’t feel it gave anything to the film and could have been left out without hurting they story. And believe me that when that happens its not the part that people were talking about when they say “it got weird after that”.

OVERALL

The movie is an effective emotional experience, and while I tend to stray from foreign language films, this still manages to impact – good or bad. The movie manages to deliver well, and that was the goal.

The film will get theatrical releases via Sony Pictures in August in the UK, September for Spain, October in Germany, and November 18 in France, Italy and the US.

I give The Skin I Live In a 8 out of 10

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