The Skin I Live In

I’m not sure if I told you, but as a teenager, I spent a lot of time in Spain. Almost every holiday, three or four months a year, for five or six years. I love it there, utterly and completely; I really think of it as my spiritual home. And Pedro Almodovar has long been the memory-keeper, the interpreter, the sage, the translator and and the voluptuous whisperer in your ear that there is no normal in the normal of everyday (Spanish) life. His latest movie, The Skin I Live In doesn’t just have skeletons in the closet, it has a whole, real, live girl (the almost perfectly exquisite Elena Anaya).

What she’s doing there, and why, is the central mystery of the entire film. There are no easy answers of course, no black and white morality play, and some seriously troubling considerations of identity and gender, sanity and health, sex and desire, that stay with you long after the film is over. So: my favorite (is that the wrong word?) Almodovar film yet.

The establishing cityscape places the film in Toledo, that grand old city-on-a-hill with its imposing Alcazar, and the astounding, cavernous Cathedral. We went there during our fabulous Madrid vacation last year. But beyond establishing shots, you don’t get much of a sense of Spain from the locations themselves, which are mostly interior and could have been shot anywhere. The exquisite villa, where Antonio Banderas’ life unravels with terrifying speed, is actually in A Estrada in Galicia – and the house was recently for sale. I could do that….