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The Skin I Live In(2011)
A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.
For more about The Skin I Live In and the The Skin I Live In Blu-ray release, see the The Skin I Live In Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 16, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Blanca Suárez, Marisa Paredes, Eduard Fernández, Jan Cornet
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
» See full cast & crew
The Skin I Live In Blu-ray Review
A chilling tale of transformations.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 16, 2012
Our face identifies us.
If The Skin I Live In wasn't so elegantly made, it might be mistaken for something far more grotesque, distant from the mainstream, and lacking in taste. But that's not the case. The latest film from acclaimed Director Pedro Almodóvar is a genius piece of filmmaking about righting wrongs: righting the wrongs of nature, of man, and of chance. It's a film where great intelligence and high science are used for both good and evil, not in a broad context necessarily but at the skilled hands of one man. The movie is intriguing and repulsive, beautiful and nasty. It's easy to admire but sometimes very difficult to watch. It's made with a hand as careful and exacting as that of the lead character, but it goes in many different directions before ultimately coming back full circle. It's a unique take on old tales, but diving in too deeply would spoil the surprises. The Skin I Live In is best watched with an open mind and as little information about it as possible. It will delight and shock, please and disgust, and it's certainly not for younger or immature audiences. Proceed with caution, but by all means, proceed.
Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is a brilliant scientific mind and a highly skilled surgeon. He's on the cutting edge of the facial transplant field, hoping to give new life to burn victims while also genetically engineering stronger human skin that's impervious to everything from fire to mosquito bites. His ethics and techniques are in question, but he harbors an even darker secret: Vera (Elena Anaya), a beautiful young woman on whom he has secretly worked and whom he holds captive in a large, bright room inside his own home, her every movement captured on surveillance video and broadcast elsewhere within the house. Ledgard also lives with a long-trusted servant named Marilia (Marisa Paredes) who herself holds close a secret. When Marilia's long-lost son Zeca (Roberto Álamo) comes to visit, he spies Vera on one of the television monitors and believes her to be someone he once knew: but is she that person from his past? What unfolds next -- in the present, in the future, and in the not-so-distant past -- will reshape the lives of all involved and reveal dark secrets and terrible consequences the likes of which none of the characters could have ever imagined for their lives.
The Skin I Live In begins as if a movie "ripped from the headlines," as they say. Facial transplants and cutting-edge medical techniques that walk -- and do cross -- the line between science and morality are paired with an unusual tale of captivity and an absent backstory that's to be filled in at a later time in the movie. But for its open, Almodóvar's film represents something almost sterile and otherworldly, something far detached but at the same time oddly alluring. Its opening act manages to pull its audience in even as it maneuvers through difficult technical elements and drifts towards the surreal and the unbelievable that's to come. Indeed, the film demonstrates a perfect balance whereby its story remains accessible even as the science behind it is anything but. That's because it's not about the science but the people who dabble in and are effected by it. The movie goes even beyond demonstrating complex science and questioning medical ethics, leaving much of that behind in favor of an examination of the direction taken and the choices made by a mind in crisis and another body in turmoil. Certainly, the first act is a tease -- though still a critical part of a larger story -- for a greater movie that proves to be something altogether different than its open suggests. It's a deep and mesmerizing yet haunting and grotesque story that's impossible to believe but that plays with such a natural rhythm and sometimes even an odd lightness that no matter how far it goes, what revelations are made, it seems absolutely real, happening in the moment, even in its most incredibly terrifying revelations.
Digging deeper into the story would be a disservice to the audience that has yet to see the movie. Suffice it to say, there are elements of great tragedy, disturbing choices, terrible consequences, and incredible turns of events, all the sorts of things that crawl under the skin, churn the stomach, and challenge the mind. One can only guess as to the deeper thought processes that exist well beyond the actions the characters take, for the happenings in The Skin I Live In are not exactly the sort of things conceived by the rational, balanced mind, on either side of the knife. That's part of the film's beauty, the handsome portrayal of an ugly story, a story that in many ways is best left interpreted by the audience, at least beyond its understandable basic elements that are taken to indecipherable levels of nastiness and, indeed, insanity. What's readily clear throughout the movie, however, is its technical brilliance. Almodóvar's picture is stylistically mesmerizing. It captures an absolutely unique surface appearance, accentuated by pinpoint direction that effortlessly pulls the audience into the story. It needs that visual and structural allure, for it would otherwise be a difficult sell considering its unpredictable and twisted premise. Almodóvar does well to not disguise the movie but to lighten its burden; there's no doubt as to what this is, at least on its superficial level, by the end, yet the audience never feels repulsed -- challenged, yes; uncertain, definitely; uncomfortable, no doubt -- by the material but rather oddly drawn to it. Almodóvar shapes the movie into something that's both distant and warm at the same time, serious and engaging but often light and intriguing. The acting is equally incredible and necessary to more fully shape the whole. Antonio Banderas is brilliant as a cutting edge but at the same time, well, disturbed, to be kind, surgeon whose work and life lead him down an incredibly dark path that's contrasted against the brightness and spaciousness of his home and the usefulness of his groundbreaking medical advances. Elena Anaya is stunningly beautiful and completely believable in her role, both most critical in shaping the film's primary revelation.
The Skin I Live In Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Skin I Live In sews together another stellar 1080p Blu-ray transfer from Sony. The movie yields an ever-wondrous film-like texture, accentuated by a fine layer of grain, impeccable clarity, flawless detailing, and precise coloring. Viewers -- even those with thousands of titles under their belts -- will marvel at the picture-perfect detailing that's almost always evident. Skin textures are remarkable, whether real, artificial, altered, rough, soft, or burned. Fine detail in clothes -- sweaters, surgical garb, even the texture of a surgical mask -- are incessantly impressive. Brick façades, slick scientific instruments, even the texture of styrofoam packaging are displayed with immaculate, tactile texturing. The image also boasts strong natural depth. Colors are wonderfully balanced. The palette isn't gaudy or vibrant, but neither is it dull. Every little shade is naturally presented, even when the image appears inherently cold or dark. Skin-colored body suits, blue cups, orange juice, purple sweaters, and red blood all appear with stunning natural shading. Flesh tones are precise, and black levels are impressively deep and true. The image is absolutely free of any banding, blocking, or other unwanted anomalies. This is beautiful film-like perfection, another real visual treat from Sony.
The Skin I Live In Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Skin I Live In won't stretch any sound system to its limit, but pinpoint clarity is the name of the game in those sorts of soundtracks and this DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless presentation has it mastered. Music plays smoothly and with fine spacing, clarity, and surround support, the later of which sounds a touch too dominant in an early scene but is otherwise nicely balanced. Whether light score or a party sequence in chapter seven, the movie's musical elements are presented with equal attention to detail. The track also enjoys fine light ambiance, whether at a gathering of medical professionals or outside when crickets lightly fill up the stage. Dialogue is steady and accurate, playing always from the center channel but lightly reverberating when necessary, such as during a medical conference early in the film. Indeed, this track won't be one that's used for demonstration purposes, but Sony's lossless presentation handles the movie's rather limited sonic elements with crisp, satisfying ease.
The Skin I Live In Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Skin I Live In doesn't feature many extras, but the lengthy interview is excellent.
The Skin I Live In Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Skin I Live In is a rare film that's thematically disgusting but visually beautiful, the latter dominating the former and lessening the burden but in no way cheapening the story. If anything, the way Director Pedro Almodóvar has shaped the movie enhances the grotesqueness of the story line without repulsing his audience. It's emotionally disturbing but impossible to see as anything but a wonderful and beautiful film. It wouldn't be right to call the movie "Horror" considering the modern interpretation of that genre, but this represents true horror in the very classic Mary Shelley style. The movie is impeccably assembled and perfectly acted; it's too emotionally disturbing and visually challenging and mature for younger audiences, but The Skin I Live In is one of 2011's must-see pictures for those with the patience to see it play out and the constitution to absorb all it has to offer. Sony's Blu-ray release of The Skin I Live In features extras short in number but high in quality. The video and audio qualities are incredible, as expected. Highly recommended.
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• The Skin I Live In Blu-ray - December 12, 2011
Next year, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will bring The Skin I Live In to Blu-ray. Directed by Academy Award-winner Pedro Almodóvar (Volver), this Grand Guignol-styled horror melodrama focuses on the twisted relationship between a brilliant plastic surgeon ...
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