Tag Archives: elena anaya

Film Review: The Skin I Live In

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Following the death of his wife, surgeon Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) threw himself into his work and developed a new form of prosthetic skin, much tougher than regular human skin. Ledgard performs his experiments on Vera (Elena Anaya), a young woman held captive in his house, but as we learn more about her and why she’s there, the shocking truth behind Ledgard’s experiments are revealed.

It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to really identify what kind of film The Skin I Live In (La Piel Que Habito in its mother tongue) is. Without a doubt, it has its roots in films such as Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Franju’s Eyes Without a Face, but it uses so many different elements from other films, that it only really keeps a company of one. At times it feels like a body horror film, whereas it could be argued that it’s a love story deep down. It’s also part mad scientist film, whilst there are undoubtedly surrealist elements mixed in – guy dressed as a tiger, anyone?

Similarly, the film explores a wide range of themes, including control within relationships, coping with grief, sexuality and gender. There’s an awful lot going on but it never becomes overwhelming; these themes are laid out in front of you but are never shoved in your face at the expense of the story. When Vera watches a wildlife documentary showing a cheetah toying with its prey, it’s a clear metaphor for Ledgard and Vera’s relationship. Similarly, Ledgard also enjoys ‘straightening’ bonsai trees in his spare time, another sign that he loves to manipulate nature’s design. Both simple but very effectively portrayed.

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As is the film’s aesthetic. It has a minimalist look about it that is stylishly shot, with almost every scene being perfectly framed. The cinematography is almost meticulous in its execution and the vibrant and clever use of colour sometimes make the whole thing feel like an art exhibition, which, again, appropriately fits the themes the film presents.

Narratively, The Skin I Live In is a very clever film. Early on we naturally make judgements about the characters and their actions, but through flashbacks we are shown what led them to be where they are in the present and this (will likely) drastically change our opinion of them. As such, it ends up being almost a completely different film to the one at the beginning. The ending is perhaps the film’s weakest moment as it is slightly predictable and a little underwhelming (it also should have ended about 20 seconds sooner), but it’s still a fitting denouement nonetheless.

Of director Pedro Almodovar’s other films, I have only seen Volver, but there seems to be something truly fantastical about his work. Both these films seem almost fairytale-esque, rooted in the impossible yet managing to feel grounded in reality. I can imagine his films not appealing to everyone, and The Skin I Live In isn’t for those who don’t completely buy into a film’s story. You definitely get out what you put into it. Fortunately, I was completely invested in it and am now eager to check out more of the director’s work.

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

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Quickie: Point Blank (2010)

Point BlankSamuel (Gilles Lellouche) is a nurse who saves the life of Hugo (Roschdy Zem), a patient who’s also a wanted man – wanted by police and his partners in crime. Said partners kidnap Samuel’s wife (Elena Anaya) and will only give her back once he has smuggled the patient out of the hospital. Samuel then becomes one of the most wanted men in France and must team up with those on the wrong side of the law to save his wife.

Feeling a little like a cross between Taken and District 13, Point Blank is pretty relentless. From the outset there are fight scenes, chases and gun fights, and it rarely gives you chance to breathe, although given it’s fairly short runtime, that’s not an issue. It’s a relatively simple storyline and one that relies on its characters to add depth to it, which they generally do pretty well. However, out of nowhere it throws a series of plot revelations and new characters at you which, given the fairly simplistic narrative up to that point, can feel a little disorientating. performances are generally good, although the script and film’s length limits how much we know abut some of the characters. Hugo, for instance, is an intriguing character who could have benefited from a little more depth.

Point Blank is nothing we haven’t seen before, but it carries itself with style and is absorbing throughout. Its ending becomes slightly formulaic and, in parts, unnecessary, but there’s more than enough hear to entertain and keep your attention.

3 and a half pigeons

3.5/5 pigeons

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