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The Skin I Live In

After his wife’s death, a doctor kidnaps a young woman and uses her to test fire-resistant synthetic skin. <<© 2011 DreamWorkz Pictures>>

Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In casts aside subtle drama for the glory of colorful, twisting melodrama. At its heart a mad-scientist story, the film follows Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) as he dives into obsession and insanity.
    After losing his wife to an accident and his daughter to suicide, Ledgard kidnaps Vera (Elena Anya), a human guinea pig he uses to test a new fire-resistant synthetic skin. Though she lives in luxury, she is a prisoner who gets no contact with the outside world except when Ledgard decides to perform a surgery on her.
    Eventually fate and the frailty of human emotions conspire to bring the drama to a head, with twists and turns that would seem ridiculous if not masterfully united by Almodovar. The film also features bright and thoughtful cinematography. Almodovar is careful where he places his camera, keeping you from seeing the full picture until he’s ready for a reveal. This thoughtful filmmaking makes up for the lack of big-budget effects — though you will see a few phalluses in this very R-rated gem.

Good Melodrama • R • 117 mins.