La Piel que Habito, directed by Pedro Almodóvar, premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival to excellent reviews and winning the Youth Prize. The Frankenstein-like tale is a stretch for the Spanish director, who is going into unknown territory bringing us his first thriller and starring one of his early talent discoveries, Antonio Banderas, reuniting the two old-time friends again after 22 years.
Terror, suspense, plastic surgery and sexual identity are the elements that compose this film, which showcases a much darker side of Almodóvar. This film shocked at Cannes, becoming one of the most talked about movies of the festival, making it a strong contender for the Palme d’Or. Although this wasn’t the case, a group of young cinephiles, aged 18 to 25, voted for La Piel Que Habito, making it the winner of the Youth Prize for the best film of the official selection of films.
The film starring Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya and Marisa Paredes is a radical change in the film-making style of the Oscar winning director, whose films are known to be very colorful and full of his typical dark humor. But there is not much room for humor in this film. Almodóvar‘s Films have won in Cannes, with Best Director with Todo Sobre Mi Madre and Best Script with Volver, but he has yet to win the top prize.
La Piel Que Habito, -which translates to The Skin I live In-, is an adaptation of a French Novel written by Thierry Jonquet. The films tells the twisted story of a plastic surgeon played by Banderas who is on the verge of a scientific breakthrough by creating a fire and Malaria-proof artificial skin after his wife burns to death in a tragic car accident. Tragedy strikes again when his daughter is raped. Banderas goes out in search of revenge, and so the scientist goes mad!
In terms of defining a genre for this film, La Piel Que Habito would fit in somewhere between the Horror and Science Fiction genres. When Almodóvarwas asked at Cannes what genre he would consider this film to be, he answered that he did not know how to respect the rules and boundaries between genres, and for this reason it was hard to categorize this film under one specific category.
Science Fiction seems to fit as the film explores what happens when a scientist loses touch with humanity, making it a valid comparison with the 1931 classic Frankenstein. Almodóvar denies this as a valid categorization of the film pointing out the fact that there are already laboratories that make artificial skin.
By Larry Yepez Jr.