Almodóvar does sci-fi horror. The most significant part of that sentence is that Almodóvar does it, the genre comes second. It makes perfect sense, though. Almodóvar is frequently unsettling, so why not enter a genre where that’s the traditional goal? Then again, old Pedro doesn’t do things traditionally here either...
The Skin I Live In tells the story of Robert (Banderas), a gifted plastic surgeon, and Vera (Anaya), his patient/research subject. Saying more than that about the plot would run the risk of spoilers, rambling on for a few dozen paragraphs trying to explain it succinctly and/or sounding like a madman.
The plot does manage to make sufficient sense on film however, as Almodóvar drip feeds us details and meanders through various timelines and perspectives with blurred lines between them. The unorthodox structure of the film is unsettling and gets the tale across well but it does mean that at times it feels like there is too much focus on sub-plots, until everything bleeds together at the end. It all leads to an ambiguously satisfying climax but does drag on a bit in the middle.
The performances on hand are top notch. Banderas is wonderfully on form as the obsessed scientist. He plays the character very calm and calculated with only the occasional hint at the twisted depths which drive his actions. Anaya is equally excellent as we are left questioning her motives again and again as more details are revealed.
This is pure Almodóvar, from the familiar faces of his earlier works, including the airbrushed beauty of Elena Anaya, to the countless artistic references - from literature to painting to live music. Indeed, the music throughout the film is, in true Almodóvar form, an excellently executed driving force in many of the scenes.