Every now and then I like to dabble in a bit of foreign cinema. Some of the most magical and wonderful movies I've ever seen have been either French, Japanese or South Korean (i.e. Oldboy) and I have now found a Spanish movie which is just as brilliant.
The Skin I Live In (2011) is a Spanish psychological thriller starring Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya. The movie tells the story of Robert Ledgard (Banderas), a world renowned plastic surgeon who is in the midst of creating a new form of synthetic skin which is supposed to withstand any kind of damage or trauma. He is using an extremely beautiful woman called Vera Cruz (Anaya) to carry out his medical mission on, acting as a human ginea-pig. He secretly keeps her locked in a room in his own home - which is installed with cameras so he can watch her 24/7 - and along with a housekeeper who is also in on the act, uses his at-home medical lab to carry out various stages of reattaching his new 'skin' to his muse. As he is coming to the end of his project, the scientific community and his colleagues become wary as to how exactly he has done it - and 'who' exactly is his supposedly willing human tester.
The opening concept of this movie seems bizarre, however, as it goes on, the time period switches to six years previously, where the truth behind the pasts of both of these fascinating characters is revealed.
There is a massive twist to this story, one which is as frightening and disturbing as one could imagine, yet I also found it to be extremely sorrowful. Robert has such an alluring yet chilling presence throughout this movie. Having all the characteristics of the stereotypical "mad scientist", he is also very magnetic and strong willed, which I believe adds to his dominant presence. You can tell he is also suffering from his own personal torment, one which has been so severe that it has led him down this somewhat insane, self-destructive path.
However, he is in control of Vera and she can do nothing but comply. Her character is played out with such grace and elegance, yet it is clear for the viewer to see she is also a damaged soul. She wants to be free, she wants to escape, however she wants to escape with Robert. It would seem Vera is suffering with Stockholm Syndrome as she has developed as strong an infatuation with her captor as he has with her, making this disturbing tale of obsession, revenge and seduction all the more pleasantly melodramatic.
(images via GoogleImages)