Pedro Almodovar, is one of Spain’s most provocative filmmakers. I’ve always found his work to be thought provoking, and very well executed. My first introduction to his filmography, was his 2011 psychological horror film, The Skin I Live In. This film is an homage to the 1960 French film, Eyes Without A Face. Almodovar manages to stay true to the themes of obsession, manipulation, and psychology of the original. He also manages to build upon these themes, as well as creating a work that’s original.
Much like it’s predecessor, it’s a story of an obsessed doctor named Robert, and the modification of the human body. The doctor in question, is played by Antonio Banderas. He manages to capture the same on screen persona of Pierre Brasseur, as well as his obsession. From the onset, he seems to be attempting to create the perfect skin for the female body. Continuing to work on a test subject, confined within his household. This would remind almost everyone, of one of the central themes of the original. However, we’re not informed on who this mysterious woman is at first, or her origins. We’re simply shown the drive of a physician’s work. Almodovar keeps us misinformed, to build suspense and wonder.
Told in a flashback montage, the origins of the woman named Vera, are explained. The woman in question, wasn’t always a woman. From this point on is nothing short of pure genius, on the part of Almodovar. It’s revealed the doctors’ obsession, is fueled by a thirst for revenge. Vera, was once was a young drug addict named Vicente. Guilty of raping of one of Roberts’ relatives while inebriated, he is abducted, and forced to undergo a forced gender reassignment surgery,
Here, is where I applaud this film as much as i do. Almodovar took the original themes, and added a new one: revenge. We’re shown this process of transformation, as it takes place over a six year period. This plays on a new theme, that isn’t explored very often in films of this nature, gender identification. Although this a subject matter that has gained a lot more understanding in recent years, it’s still a subject most find controversial. Personally, I’m surprised more people aren’t understanding of this, but I digress. Much like it’s predecessor, this film takes the theme of obsession, and intertwines it with revenge, and lust. However, it gets taken in a new direction, that film audiences in 1960 were not ready for.
Almodovar successfully built a masterwork, on the foundation of a classic. You’ll hear nothing but praise form me.