Watched Jul 03, 2012
I had high expectations and in a way they were met. In another way, that slowly became apparent as the movie progressed, they weren't.
The Skin I Live In is certainly an Almodovar film. It's a strange one but it certainly has his mark. I appreciated this. I also appreciated the acting. The performance by Antonio Banderas is just one of many truly outstanding performances in this film. Every single actor feels extremely real in their role. The cinematography is also memorable, as I expected it would be.
What I did not expect was how disturbing this film would be. I'll gladly watch the film again and see if the problem was me not the film, as I suspect most fans of the film will immediately assume. Still, I really do feel like, for me at least, the problem was the film. Admittedly this is one of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen. But it's not because of what happens as much as the way the film deals with it. In Blue Velvet, for example, there are a clearly characters that we're meant to connect too. Horrible things happen but there are also those trying to stop these things from happening. It's not morally black and white - Rear Window would be another good, if tamer, example - but I can still connect to the characters and I can still get a sense of what the film is trying to say.
I'm not exactly sure what this film was trying to say. Every character is a horrible person - or they're incidental. I say this not because I necessarily view people as plainly as good or bad but because the film doesn't offer much alternative. It shows the circumstances which lead people to do bad things - but it doesn't let me in enough to make me want to spend two hours with these people. I'm not saying the film is worse because of its disturbing content. But the fact that it shows such horrible things also doesn't immediately make the film worthwhile. It needs a reason no matter what. And I don't see a reason. Why did Almodovar feel this story had to be told? What was he trying to get across?
I can't help but feel that this is some kind of Mothers of America reaction to the film. I honestly have never responded to a movie quite this way before. I genuinely don't think that this is a moral judgement. This is not an evil film - not at all. I don't think the movie condones these actions. I just don't understand what purpose showing me all of this served. If I saw a purpose then I wouldn't mind. If that were the case, I'd praise it.
Don't think I hated the film though. There's much to like - the acting, the cinematography and some key scenes. Indeed, I was actually a fan of the movie at first. Slowly I started to grow less fond of it until one key revelation late in the film changed my outlook away from the positive toward the negative. Perhaps I just need to watch it again. And I would like too. I won't be forgetting this film anytime soon and that's certainly worth something. So we'll see. It's possible my current feeling - that the film has no substantial point to it - is correct. It's also possible it's wrong. Maybe on second viewing the value will appear to me. Evidently I missed it this first time around.