• There are films like I’m So Excited! (2013- Pedro Almodóvar’s subsequent effort) or 2019’s Pain and Glory where the thriller genre or the name of Hitchcock is not mentioned in analysis of his films, but certainly 2011’s The Skin I live In is an instance where the great Spanish auteur leans heavily into genre, influence of the master of suspense, and more pointedly here, Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face (1960).
  • The Skin I Live In stars Antonio Banderas. Banderas made five archiveable films with Almodovar in the 1980s (their last collaboration was Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! in 1989) but this is their first film together since.
  • A great frame at the 14-minute mark with Banderas (playing Robert Ledgard) at the podium giving a lecture.

At the 18-minute mark Ledgard is watching his subject on a surveillance television. This could be the shot of Kim Novak at the museum in Vertigo. This is another Almodovar film about an unhealthy obsession. Here, the obsession is tied in with this bizarre revenge complex. Ledgard’s daughter had tragedy in her life- so to take revenge- Ledgard captured (and performed surgery on) Vincente (Jan Cornet) and Vincente became Vera Cruz (Elena Anaya). To add some color to the mix (as if that wasn’t enough)- the great Marisa Paredes plays Marilia who has a psychotic son (and Ledgard’s brother) Zeca (Roberto Alamo).

  • Ledgard is wealthy (an insanely rich surgeon- described as a vampire)- and like most of Almodóvar’s protagonists he has an exquisite taste for interior design and art (big, postmodern pieces here). During a chase sequence in the home, Almodovar is sure to pause and dwell on the artwork at the top of the stairs—and then Ledgard looks down from the second floor and top of the stairs the rug and chairs make for a sensational cinematic painting (with the floor functioning as background because of the angle). Almodovar would use this same process (Welles would always do this at low angles with ceilings that were designed to serve as backdrops) with an angled shot of the bed in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988).

a breathtaking museum-worthy composition

Almodovar’s protagonist always have exquisite tastes in art and design– and the great Spanish auteur is not afraid to rest his camera on some of it 

  • Like most of Almodóvar’s work there is melodrama-  characters coming back form the past – this is very plotted with a complex “six years earlier” prolonged flashback.
  • Like 2009’s Broken Embraces or 2002’s Talk to Her the flashback goes on so long the viewer almost forgets about the present tense
  • Alberto Iglesias’ jazz and string-heavy score makes for a very nice accompaniment to Almodóvar’s absorbing story and vibrant imagery.
  • There is a jaw-on-the-floor shot at the 49-minute mark of Banderas’ character through the forest on the way to the garden as he spies on his daughter

Franju’s Eyes Without a Face (1960) is an important text to The Skin I Live In 

  • Rape as part of the story again for Almodovar- at least half his films
  • Almodovar designs the frame with some exquisite flourishes- including the colored fixtures behind Banderas’ Ledgard during surgery.
  • At the 109-minute mark there is a sublime composition- an overhead shot of the final crime scene- the rugs, duvet-  matches a shot used previously in the film with just Vera Cruz in bed.
  • Highly Recommend- top 10 of the year quality