Monday, December 19, 2011

The Skin I Live In

In Pedro Almodovar’s new film, Antonio Banderas plays a doctor apparently obsessed with creating a human skin which is, to put it mildly, burn-proof. He argues if this new skin is available, the world would be rid of various diseases, like malaria, because mosquitoes wouldn’t be able to penetrate the skin.

But, how this new skin would be created? Why, using tissues from pigs? But, this is unethical. That’s not the problem with Dr Robert Ledgard. The problem is what he really wants to do.

But it turns out that this business of burn-proof skin was really a ruse. The real motive was revenge. On whom? The person whom actually done him wrong? Not really, but the person whom he could attack and harm. The film is pertinent to point out that Vincente, the victim, was really innocent, he did not do anything that warrant the kind of punishment meted out to him. His daughter was already damaged, and if someone was to be blamed, it must be he, for he shouldn’t have gone out of his way to revive his wife.

And what devise the doctor employs to extract his revenge? Thereby hangs the tale. My lips are sealed.

The irony is, at the end, Robert gets his revenge for his tragedy. He kills his own brother, he doesn’t know that, the same guy who eloped with his wife, initiating these series of mad events. But, then, observe how the doctor finds his nemesis...

It’s a wonderfully constructed plot, if you can suspend your disbelief, that is. Now, that’s the case with all Almodovar films. His characters inhabit an altogether different universe. In a real world, Dr Robert Ledgard would appear to be a Dr Frankenstein. In Almodovar’s colourfully twisted world, he’s a tortured hero, somewhat mad perhaps, but not utterly disgusting. So, when at the mid-point of the film, he sleeps with Vera Cruz, we sort of root for the couple, not that the relationship was going to work out.

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