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Probing beneath the surface

The word "disturbing" doesn't even being to describe The Skin I Live In, a new movie by Pedro Almodóvar. While the legendary Spanish director has been known to push cinematic boundaries (previous works like Bad Education and Volver come to mind), his latest creation is something else entirely. Enter at your own risk.
Probing beneath the surface

The movie is about an eminent plastic surgeon (brilliantly played by Antonio Banderas). After his wife is badly burned in a car accident, he makes it his mission to create a new kind of skin that could have prevented the trauma she sustained. He's been obsessing over it for the last several years despite his medical colleagues expressing the desire that he stop. Little do they know that transgenesis is the least of his ethical breaches.

Human guinea pig

It turns out that doctor dearest has been testing his work on a human guinea pig (the unbelievably beautiful Elena Anaya), who he's been holding captive in his country mansion. We don't know who she is or why she's there; all she does is spend her time watching documentaries, doing yoga, and scribbling endlessly on the walls. But, as the story unfolds, we learn that she's connected to the doctor's past in a way that will leave you absolutely stunned.

Thick skin needed

Even though The Skin I Live In was one of the nominees for Best Foreign Picture at the Golden Globes, I can say with some certainty that many people won't enjoy it. You'll need a pretty thick skin to handle how explicit it gets, something even the creepy trailer can't prepare you for. Ultimately, it's the kind of movie that leaves you with a sense of unease that you can't quite shake once it ends.

And yet I still think it's worth considering. Everything is just so mesmerising that you often struggle to turn away, even though every part of you often wants to do just that. Then there's the story, which gets quite complex as it jumps back and forth in time, but still keeps you engaged throughout. The final twist is one I don't think anyone will see coming. You might think you have it figured out until you realise just how wrong you were.

Accept things and move on

Mostly, The Skin I Live In is about obsession and how our desire to somehow right the past can destroy our lives in the present and prevent us from having any happiness in the future. It's interesting to stop and realise how we do this in our own lives. We think that fretting over what's already done will somehow change what happened. Guess what? It won't. Sometimes it's best to simply accept things and move on. Trying to fix them will eat you alive and could very well destroy everyone around you too. Nobody wants that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Running Time: 2 hours
Language: In Spanish with English subtitles
Age Restriction: 18 (drugs, nudity, sex, violence, language, and all the other stuff your parents forgot to warn you about)

About Eugene Yiga

Eugene graduated from the University of Cape Town with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano. He then spent over two-and-half years working in branding and communications at two of South Africa's top market research companies. Eugene also spent over three-and-a-half years at an eLearning start-up, all while building his business as an award-winning writer. Visit, follow @eugeneyiga on Twitter, or email moc.agiyenegue@olleh to say, um, hello.

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