Revenge and gender
Robert Ledgard (Banderas) is a masterful surgeon constructing an artificial skin through transgenesis, the process of inserting a gene into a living organism that would not normally contain it. Vera (Anaya) is his beautiful and mysterious patient, isolated in a room in the surgeon’s large home but not unhappy about it. Marilia (Marisa Paredes) is the housekeeper attending to both.
A seemingly harmonious trio, until a violent interlocutor arrives. When he is dispatched, one can almost see the finish of a sharp, witty (and short) Almodóvar film, but it’s here that La piel starts on a series of unsettling flashbacks, turning from a wonderful homage to Hollywood (something Almodóvar does quite often) to a series of questions on gender and moral issues.
Rape is the initial crime in the second part of the film - how far can one go to exact revenge when such evil occurs? Can there be an evil that outweighs it? Does that also deserve revenge?
But Almodóvar carefully turns us from thinking so simply by moving on to another rather surprising violation, as Robert begins to construct his own human being – a creation that may or may not have already existed – and when it comes to gender, construction is the operative word.
Almodóvar choreographs a riveting dance in which identity and gender are pulled away from each other, a dance that will leave you stripped of anything that you thought belonged to you.
La piel que habito | (Die Haut, in der ich wohne) D: Pedro Almodóvar (Spain 2011) with Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya. Starts October 20th