|Dr. Ledgard is held captive by the object of his obsession.|
The acting, especially from the two leads, is fantastic. Banderas, whom I've never really been a fan of, excels playing the brooding, charismatic and unhinged Ledgard. Layering his typical easy charm with the occasional frightening hint of his passionate obsessions, he flawlessly walks a fine line between disgusting the audience and inspiring a great amount of sympathy for the character. No matter how extreme his actions become, one always understands them; though we never condone his madness as he descends into the chaotic world of the carnal pleasures of the flesh. Banderas proves here that when handed a rich and darkly realized role he is more than up to the task.
Equal to his barely restrained ferocity, however, is the enigmatic and resilient Elena Anaya who portrays the captive Vera. She imbues her performance with desperation and cunning, seduction and a manic frenzy. Once we return to the present day, and understand the true extent of her transformative journey, the underlying nuances of her character--which recall her shrouded past--are given context and allow you to completely appreciate her dexterous performance.
Almodovar also deserves praise for his apt handling of the film's "twist". I'm reluctant to call it a real twist per se as he handles it in such a straight-forward and matter of fact fashion. In hindsight, though I did not see it coming, Almodovar foreshadows the revelation in a way that makes it seem obvious and as you watch the plot unfold, you want to smack your forehead and say "Of course... it really couldn't be any other way!" Therein lies the brilliance of this movie. Regardless of the outlandish characters, and the equally extravagant happenstances they find themselves in, the film remains entirely believable. It's absurd in many ways, but the world of The Skin I Live In is an absurd one and so, like the pieces of an abstract puzzle, everything fits together perfectly while we, the audience, reap the benefits.
Gleenneen16's rating: *****/*****