The Skin I Live In (15)

Directed by Pedro Almodovar Starring Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya Spain 120 mins Cert 15 

Pedro Almodóvar’s latest Hitchcockian thriller (much better than the beautifully made, intriguing but unsatisfactory Broken Embraces (2009)) is a magnificent, deeply unsettling nightmare – its apparent inspiration James Stewart’s attempt in Vertigo to remake – to make over – a woman in the image of his lost love.

Antonio Banderas, returning to work with Almodóvar for the first time since Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990), is magnetically cold and troubled as an obsessive plastic surgeon with a mysterious project (the film draws not only on Vertigo, but at least as much on Franju’s 1960 Eyes Without a Face, which also has a surgeon-hero). The object of his obsession is the lovely, enigmatic Vera (Elena Anaya, Room in Rome, 2010).

The surfaces of the film are cool and gorgeous, the design and composition wonderfully thought-through, but what gets under the viewer’s epidermis here is the surreal dream-logic of the action, the spiralling of the plot-twists into darker and darker psychological depths, in a calculated, richly layered way which convinces and moves us as it goes but remains elusive, not quite joining up – as if one had slipped unaware into an etching by M.C. Escher. Its extreme potency and poignancy of address can hit a nerve: I couldn’t sleep after watching it..

(Philip Horne The Telegraph)