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★★★★

Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In is a bioethical thriller featuring a wonderfully dark performance from Antonio Banderas. It combines absurd melodrama with genuine tragedy and loss, and is as creepy as it is captivating.

Dr Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is a wealthy plastic surgeon at the height of his profession. At lectures he discusses cutting-edge advances in face-transplant surgery – while at his expansive villa home these theoretical musings are transformed into disturbing reality. Vera (Elena Anaya) is his patient and captive, kept in a high-tech prison and dressed in a skin-tight flesh-toned outfit to protect her new skin.

As the plot twists and turns we are brought deeper into a web of intrigue, the conclusions of which are not evident until the revelatory third act. Yet what matters is the journey – each scene is impeccably choreographed, with lavish design featuring tones of flesh and steel, combined with an orchestral score to create an intense, anticipatory mood.

The Skin I Live In is a triumph of Almodóvar’s attention to detail and excellent cinematography from José Luis Alcaine. The tale is convoluted and implausible, yet plausibility matters little when you are this gripped. Enjoy the ride, and don’t question the outcome.

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