Written and Directed by Pedro Almodovar, based on Mygale by Thierry Jonquet
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Bianca Suarez, Jan Cornet, Roberto Alamo, Marisa Paredes

There are films that, given time, begin to seem stronger than your initial reaction and ones that grow worse. This was one of the latter.

PLOT: Dr. Robert Ledgard (Banderas) is a brilliant surgeon who specializes in facial transplants. He comes to this specialty after his wife is burned in an accident. When she is lost to him, he finds a replacement for her (Anaya) although not in any way you might expect. Much of the movie concerns the replacement’s attempts to escape her imprisonment through various means. I grew very tired of watching her flit around her quarters in a skin colored skin-tight suit. Ledgard is helped in his imprisonment by his housekeeper (Paredes). (Is there always a character like her in movies like this?)

Much more detail would ruin your enjoyment of The Skin I Live In. If you can enjoy it. This is a fairly brutal film (two rapes!) with no one much to like. Dr. Ledgard is so unsympathetic it undermines the film. I think we need to feel some compassion for him to tolerate so many unpleasant scenes. Or, if this is a film about a monster, we need to understand why. The back story, which should soften our feeling, does not really succeed in doing that. He is too arrogant, too unfeeling for us to not loathe him. You get the feeling he would have been a monster in any circumstance.

Although the film looks beautiful, that was its only strength for me. Recommended for Almodovar completists only.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in