The Skin I Live In (2011)

 It’s being two weeks since I’ve seen this film. It’s being almost two years since I started this blog because of another Almadovar film! Yet, there were so many things that were unanswered in my mind about it. Things that kept me from writing this post, till now.

This film may be considered as being … two films! The first one, is the obvious story unfolding before our eyes as the plot progresses. Pedro Almodóvar is a master in surprises, guaranteeing that beneath the surface that we see, there are things we hardly expect to find. Actually, by contemplating the totally unexpected, one may find himself close to the director’s vision! There is an excellent setup, justifying the motives and actions of the film’s heroes. Situations that one is totally unaware of, actions that have an enormous and unexpected impact in the lives of people involved, disproportional prices to be paid… Just seeing the first level of the film, is a rewarding experience. One may think that it is nothing more than a tale on vengeance. There are some questions emerging however… The end of the film is one of them.

The second film is an allegory, the true meaning building on the presented story. This is presented below. In my humble opinion, one must see the film first and contemplate on it for some time before proceeding with the post 🙂 The rating is at the end.

A person, Vincente, being a bit drunk, becomes more passionate than normally with a girl during a party. He does not know the psychological problems of the girl and things go out of hand when he attempts to make love to her. The result is that the girl will commit suicide after a couple of years. Her father, a plastic surgeon, will seek vengeance and will transform Vincente to Vera through a series of operations in order to humiliate and torture him. For the same reason, but also because of the obsession he has with medicine, he will use Vera as a guinea pig to test the characteristics of a new implanted skin.

Vincente is mainly innocent. Yet, for reasons beyond his control, he is converted into another person. The real person is covered by the skin he is forced to live in. This is a transformation for life.

The plastic surgeon’s mother has another son: the ‘tiger’. This is a son that has a face permanently deformed that looks like a tiger. ‘Tiger’ is able to walk freely among the people unnoticed only when he wears his carnival uniform, i.e. only for a very specific time period, when society allows such a costume and behavior. ‘Tiger’ is a brute. He has primeval instincts and wants only the basics: to drink, eat, get warm and copulate.

The mother represents our society. She does not want ‘Tiger’ so, she abandons him in the streets. ‘Tiger’ has to grow and find his way on his own, with no guidance, no understanding, no love. He feels like an animal tolerated only for a very specific time period. ‘Tiger’ is a brute against his own mother. How could it be otherwise?

The plastic surgeon is the ‘good’ son of the mother. He is respectable, intelligent and wealthy. But is also immoral and stops at nothing in order to accomplish his goals. He is equally mad as his brother, the ‘Tiger’. Their mother accepts that she has ‘… a belly full of madness”. But she also wants ‘Tiger’ and Vera dead from the hand of the plastic surgeon. That way, there will be nothing to be afraid of. She will be left alone with her beloved son.

Needless to analyze why Vera takes revenge of the plastic surgeon. What is interesting is the return of Vera to her physical mother: the fact that he/she is afraid to speak directly to her but first speaks to his/her old friend. A fear that comes from the possibility of rejection. A rejection similar with the one a child faces when he has done something bad, which is however not the case for Vera/Vicente. Isn’t that similar to the rejection that a child fears on stating its sexual preferences to its parents?

My rating: 09/10

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