Almodovar’s psycho-sexual sci-fi comes off without a Hitch(cock)

At his best, Pedro Almodovar is a master of outrageous antics like Fellini and the tense, driving, investigative thrills of Hitchcock, though seldom in the same movie; at his worst, he allows mawkish sentimentality to be his undoing.

He’s finally hit the sweet spot with The Skin I Live In, a rangy, intoxicatingly compulsive mystery that blends spectacle with sci-fi with the cool suspense of David Cronenberg. Better yet, it explores big emotional themes that are as extreme as the crazed plot but frighteningly relateable.

The film, set one year in the future, reunites Almodovar with the Spanish actor he made a star, Antonio Banderas, for the first time in 21 years. Banderas, at 51, still has smoldering good looks and a dangerousness brooding under a controlled, respectable exterior.

He plays Robert Ledgard, a plastic surgeon who has pioneered an artificial skin that will revolutionize the treatment of burn victims — a passion, since his own wife was horribly disfigured a decade before. His methods skirt medical ethics, however, so his colleagues don’t know Robert has been experimenting on Vera (Elena Anaya), a prisoner in his house who has been changed, slowly but inevitably, into The Perfect Woman.

4.5 stars. Read the rest of the article here.

DEETS: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya. Rated R. 130 mins. Angelika Mockingbird Station.