Sunday, March 18, 2012

[Review] The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito)

This is very brief, but I have to give a glowing recommendation to all of you science-fiction and horror fans. Rent the Blu-Ray version of "The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito)", winner of "Best Film Not in the English Language" at the 65th British Academy Film Awards, as well as winner of many other awards and nominated for even more. Moreover, for students of the language, it's in a very clear and "high" Spanish, with much of the Castilian accent to be heard.

Briefly, Antonio Banderas stars as a mysterious and reclusive doctor of some obvious wealth. In his palatial villa is a locked room, under constant surveillance by many cameras. In the room is a very lovely woman (the heartbreakingly lovely Elena Anaya), practicing yoga, wearing nothing but a form-fitting full-body suit, of the type worn by victims of extensive burns. It is quickly seen that she is a captive, and suicidal. Before long, the doctor needs to do some stitching along with other touching that isn't exactly what is expected of a doctor with his patient.

We are slowly drawn in to the strange and almost loving relationship between the doctor and his captive patient, and then in the aftermath of a scene of lovemaking, we are taken back to six years earlier, and see how this relationship came to be. It's shortly after this that the viewer will start getting the creeps. I am not easily impressed by most horror film, but halfway through the show I was muttering "you twisted bastards". I had to stop to have some drinks, and then I was prepared -- I had thought -- for the rest of it. I wasn't.

With exceptional production values, some of the best names in the Spanish-language film industry, and with Antonio Banderas exuding a smoldering Latin menace and portraying the most demented of steely resolve, with all actors performing magnificently in a script that goes places that would frighten Hitchcock, this is nothing less than the best-ever thinking-man's Frankenstein for sick fucks. It is raw if subtle horror with no flashes, bangs, or crashes and probably all the more frightening because of the depth of its quietness.

As science fiction it's exceptional and far too believable as both science-fiction and as horror. This one deserves more awards for artistic excellence if not for subject matter. Run right out and rent it and do not let your kids see it. Hell, this isn't fit for most adults.

If this is what the Spanish film industry thinks of as a Mad Doctor Movie, the world must demand more Mad Spanish Doctor Movies.