Review: The Skin I Live In (NYFF 2011)

Ever since the release of the film’s trailer, it’s been quite apparent that The Skin I Live In doesn’t play by the industry’s standard rules of story telling. While this is generally a stellar characteristic in terms of innovation, it also runs the risk of, well, being confusing. The Skin I Live In isn’t too tough to follow, but the storyline does delve into some elements particularly deeply and glosses over others, and while this recipe might work for some, for others it could keep the piece from having the intended effect.

After his wife is burned in a car accident, prominent plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Legard (Antonio Banderas) turns his attention towards developing a second skin. In the privacy of his in-home facility, he manages to create something that’s not only soft to the touch, but has the power to withstand heightened weathering, or burning.

The problem is, his accomplishment isn’t exactly ethical, as it requires a human test subject. That’s where Vera (Elena Anaya) comes in. She lives relatively comfortably in Robert’s mansion, El Cigarral, albeit like a prisoner, confined to her bedroom. Robert visits her frequently and seemingly cares deeply for her, even beyond his research, but the sentiment isn’t always reciprocated.

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