When I hear the term "plastic surgery revenge film," my gut instinct is to think of some horrific torture-porn flick designed merely for gross-out moments and shock value. That is, unless you add "directed by Pedro Almodovar" to the description. In a departure from his normal blend of drama and campy humor, the director's latest takes us down a darker-than-usual road with The Skin I Live In, albeit with the auteur's style seemingly intact. Almodovar has gone to Cannes many times, but has yet to walk away with the top prize. Skin seems like it won't change that, but it sounds like it will prove to be another must-see entry in Almodovar's filmography:
The Guardian - Peter Bradshaw: (4/5 stars) "It it twisted and mad, and its choreography and self-possession are superb."
indieWire - Eric Kohn: (B-) "...Skin lacks the sensationalistic imagery one might expect from Almodovar. Cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine keeps the images loud and expressionistic, but there's not much to look at."
Digital Spy - Mayer Nissim: (4/5 stars) "Yes, it's absurd. Yes, it's very, very silly, but The Skin I Live In is also a hell of a lot of fun."
Screen Daily - Finnaula Halligan: (N/A) "At times The Skin I Live In feels like rejuvenation for the 61-year-old director. Despite the dark theme, it boasts his confident playfulness of old." "Antonio Banderas flourishes in this return to Spanish-language film-making."
Rope of Silicon - Brad Brever: (B) "There have always been layers to Almodovar's films, but I just wasn't ready for the darkly comic tone that shows itself in fits and spurts."
The Playlist - James Rocchi: (B-) "With The Skin I Live In, [Almodovar] clearly jolted and wrested himself out of any potential rut; the concern is now, rather, what to make of the new territory he, and we, are in."
The Hollywood Reporter - Kirk Honeycutt: (N/A) "The film's design, costumes, and music, especially Alberto Iglesias' music, present a lushly beautiful setting, which is nonetheless a prison and a house of horror." "There are well-timed laughs that lessen the melodrama and underscore that Almodovar remains ever a prankster."
Variety - Justin Chang: (N/A) "...despite its scalpel-like precision, pic falls short of its titular promise, never quite getting under the skin as it should."
FirstShowing.net - Alex Billington: (9/10) "It was a wild and crazy experience, to be frank, but damn good." "Banderas is the best he's been in years, intense at times, sensual at others, a tour de force that brings a quality that this so great."
Additional Comments: Critics generally praise the performances and Almodovar's style. However, some feel that the film's tonal shifts aren't always clear enough. Artistic aspects get full marks, however, especially the cinematography and score.
Cannes Verdict: It's not Almodovar's next masterpiece, but The Skin I Live In is a lush and atmospheric pseudo-thriller that shows the director with a renewed energy.