Banderas & Almodóvar: The Skin I Live In

Posted on October 29, 2011


Banderas and Almodóvar (courtesy of Cannes Film Festival)

The Skin I Live In
by AnneLise Sorensen

There’s an unspoken rule about celebrities in New York City: When you see them, you ignore them. Or at most, you acknowledge them with a certain bored disdain.

That didn’t happen last week with Antonio Banderas.

We were invited, along with a group of NY journalists, to meet Banderas, Elena Anaya and Pedro Almodóvar after a pre-screening of their new film, “The Skin I Live In,” at the New York Film Festival.

The mad-scientist flick gave us goosebumps. So did Antonio Banderas in his distressed jeans and cowboy boots. And, oh my, that accent.

Banderas and Anaya at New York Film Festival; photo by AnneLise Sorensen

“The Skin I Live In” tells the twisted tale of an evil, debonair doctor (Banderas) who experiments in his lair of a lab to create the perfect specimen (Anaya). Or is she? The horror film is something of a departure for Almodóvar, while still revealing his trademark quirky humor. Look for the bad guy in a tiger costume whose pert little tail almost steals the scene.

The movie also explores the eternal question of human identity: Who are we? Or, rather, what are we? The good doctor peddles in fake skin, you see, where humans emerge from petri dishes – so even our physicality comes to question, let alone our morals. It’s a dark film, with soul-crushing moments, but it ultimately celebrates the message that it’s not what’s outside, but what’s inside that counts.

Get ready for some zingers along the way. As Antonio Banderas explains, the film hinges on one of the most compelling “u-turns” in recent cinematic history. He’s right. Let’s just say that it will make you swear off plastic surgery forever. (Melanie Griffith would probably agree.)

As for hanging out with the Spanish celebrities: Almodóvar was impressively insightful – and cracked jokes in Spanish; the lovely Anaya was a vision in white; and Banderas? Like a fine Spanish wine, he just gets better with age.

My review originally featured on MSN (Microsoft Network) Postbox.

Banderas, Anaya, and Almodóvar (“The Skin I Live In”); photo by AnneLise Sorensen

Antonia Banderas and Elena Anaya; courtesy of “The Skin I Live In”