Monday, October 31, 2011

Pedro Almodovar: Sex Without a Face (The Skin I Live In)

Antonio Banderas, Blanca Suarez, The Skin I Live In, Sony Pictures Classics, 2011.

Pedro Almodovar remains one of the few and finest directors currently working that is comparable to the past masters. His finite grip on style ansd substance sets his films apart as truly visionary and unique. In the last decade, his career has reached a pinnacle, with his camp and quirk slowly transmuting into melodrama, then human drama. Talk to Her is one of the greatest films he has ever crafted.

With his chilly, meticulous new picture, The Skin I Live In, Almodovar pays homage to the classic film noir melodrama Gods while materializing a shocking, fascinating and deeply disturbing parable of desire, gender and modern medicine. His palette is spot-on, his screenplay glues you to your seat as usual, with its twisting sheen and morose jauntiness.

Antonio Banderas mines depths of his screen persona he has left untouched for decades, while Elena Anaya and Marisa Paredes match him step by step. Alberto Iglesias' score is a windswept homage to Racksin and Hermann. The pleasures and discomforts of this precise work will haunt you days afterwards.

While many of the sexual escapades hark back to his over the top 90s, Almodovar's main influences here would seem to obviously be Georges Franju's arthouse horror film Eyes Without a Face as well as David Cronenberg's cold, creepy erotic medical thriller Dead Ringers. As with any great artist, Almodovar has ingested the past and redefined the future.

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