Posted by: greercn | August 31, 2011

The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito)

What has happened to Pedro Almodovar? He made some of the best movies ever – “Breakdown” and “Volver” are two – but “Skin” is a completely messy bleeding scab of a film.

Is this Frankenstein with a feminist twist? Is it Greek tragedy given Spanish oomph? Or could it be a parable for modern alienation?

By the sixth time I sneaked a peak at my watch, I decided to try hard to find good things about this. So, here they are:

* Antonio Banderas looks terrific. It’s great to see him and to hear him speaking Spanish again.

* Marisa Paredes is utterly wonderful as a grieving employee and mother. She has amazing style and is just beautiful.

*Elena Anaya, Blanca Suarez, Barbara Lennie and Jan Cornet are among the fabulous ensemble and all have glorious moments.

* I have not read Thierry Jonquet’s novel, so I have no idea whether this is a faithful rendition or not. But I suspect it is the kind of guff I used to adore as a teenager, but grew out of in favour of Hemingway, Orwell and Philip K Dick.

* The main house used for the filming is very charming.

That’s about it. If this were the first of Almodovar’s movies I had seen, I would not think so highly of him. Pretentious nonsense is the phrase I would use.

The audience at Notting Hill Gate Picturehouse seemed to be almost universally disappointed. This was a big meeting of the converts to the Almodovar fan club and they were clucking cross noises.

The Gate is still the prettiest place to see a movie in London. It feels very civilised to have popcorn with a glass of Pinot Noir during a movie.

And I met very interesting people, as I always do when seeing Almodovar movies.

But I am puzzled. What, exactly, might be the point of this? Plastic surgeon makes better skin? Sadly, that plot is not pushed forward enough to make you care. Grief makes you crazy? Okay. It’s better to be a man than a woman? Nonsense.

My grandmother always used to say that if you had nothing nice to say, you should say nothing. Silence on “Skin” begins now.

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