21 May 2012

Movies: The Skin I Live In

The Skin I Live In (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1189073/

Thriller / Horror (and a pinch of sci-fi). Spanish language subtitled.

After his wife was horribly burned in a car accident a surgeon develops a new artificial skin that withstands damage. When the surgeon presents his skin to the medical community and mentions that it was developed through transgenics, that is, harvesting animal genetic material to strengthen human skin, the community huffs and puffs and he's pulled aside and basically ordered to quit his research. Good thing he didn't tell them about his human guinea pig locked up back home - a woman that he has been testing this new skin on. .

I first heard about this film when I read a news article that basically said when the film was screened at the Toronto Film Festival a bunch of people walked out on it because the subject matter disturbed them. It also mentioned the film starred Antonio Banderas, but I don't think that factored in to their decision to walk out.
Regardless, I figure if a film starring Banderas has the title "The Skin I Live In" and is so disturbing that people walked out of the screening then I have to see the film.

A couple things came to mind as I watched the film. Closing in on halfway through I still couldn't figure out why people walked out of the theater and began to wonder if maybe the scenes were deleted or something.  The other thing that came to mind was although there were a couple mentions of things in the surgeon's past by that point, the flashback to years prior to the film's 'current' time threw me off because the film seemed to leap abruptly in a different direction. We went from the film's exploration in to the ethics involved in the transgenics method of developing the skin, testing on humans to watching the surgeon and his daughter deal with the aftermath of his wife's accident.
It felt like an abrupt course change. But I stuck it out. And it was worth it. So worth it.
The order of events played out, with the flash back to the past then return us to the 'now', is the best way to tell this story. When you see it and how everything pieces together you'll understand how everything you watched up to that point has to be rethought.

Stars Antonio Banderas as the surgeon Robert Ledgard.  I didn't particularly recognize the rest of the cast. I'm pretty sure they are all Spanish actors, the film is a Spanish film and subtitled in English. But that didn't matter. The story was compelling enough that I forgot I was reading the dialog along the way.
Direction, sound, music, sets, acting, story, all top notch. Darn good and disturbing story.
And well worth reading subtitles to watch this film.

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And it was such relief to watch after the load of crap films I sat through recently.

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