I've only seen one film this week that I've not seen before, and it's proper unusual.
The Skin I Live In (2011)
Directed by legendary Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, this film was fantastic to watch for several reasons. Firstly, it is quite different in tone to any other Almodovar film I've seen so far. Secondly, it cements in my mind Antonio Banderas as a brilliant dramatic lead rather than a brilliant action lead as he appears in Desperado. Thirdly, it's creepier than Creepy the creepy crawly creeping over a wall of creeps.
Firstly, the similarities I assumed it shared with french film Les Yeux Sans Visage based on the use of skin and masks are thankfully absent.
Instead the film tells a story full of the typical intense character drama you'd come to expect from Almodovar film. The families broken by tragedy and the study of gender and transgender roles comes through in this film. Antonio Banderas is almost as good as someone like Cary Grant in a Hitchcock role or Sean Connery as James Bond, it's a suave and cool performance but with a dangerous edge and a chilling level of determination. The plot is such that I don't want to reveal too many details but needless to say, there are twists I didn't see coming.
Apart from Antonio Banderas, the other cast member who really stands out is Elena Anaya as Vera. Apart from a stunning beauty, there is an understated physicality to the role I almost didn't notice until more of the plot had been revealed. It's a stunningly played role that really brings out a strength of character with very little dialogue.
It's here also that Almodovar's brilliant direction also comes through. The film looks amazing, the scenes have a brilliant mix of cold metals and plastic whilst filling several scenes with intense and searing colour. The character of Vera is shot to look like some kind of mannequin which really adds to the character in many ways. Again, there is fantastic direction with several scenes which give Antonio Banderas a genuine menace and create a superior sense of tension. The film is also without doubt a thriller, I would argue a psychological thriller because much of the tension and suspense is created through simply exploring the minds of the characters and once you see how driven they are, the disturbing actions seem plausible. It's quite a horrific film in places but without a single scare in the film, it's just tension and atmosphere.
I thought it was one of those rare films that seek to unsettle you rather than have you leaping behind the sofa. It does this admirably.