Toronto 2011: Almodóvar, Banderas reunite in 'Skin I Live In'
Pedro Almodóvar and Antonio Banderas, whose latest collaboration, "The Skin I Live In," screens Sunday night at the Toronto International Film Festival, were little-known talents outside the Spanish-speaking world in the mid-1980s.
Then the early movies the Spanish compatriots made together, including "Matador" (1986), "Law of Desire" (1987) and "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (1988), started showing up in U.S. and European art-house theaters, and stirring up bilingual chatter on the festival circuit. They went on to co-conspire in "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" (1990), a characteristically Almodóvarian saga of twisted love and kinky mind games, stuffed with enough pathos and melodrama to stock an entire TV network's worth of telenovelas.
Now they've teamed up again for the first time in 20 years on "The Skin I Live In," restoring Banderas to the Spanish director's stable of favorite actors that also includes Penelope Cruz and Carmen Maura.
Based on Thierry Jonquet’s novel "Tarantula," with nods to "Vertigo" and "The Bride of Frankenstein," Almodóvar's latest film unspools the tale of Dr. Robert Ledgard (Banderas), a brilliant plastic surgeon troubled by a personal tragedy that occurred years earlier.
For some time, his obsessive and miraculous experiments have been focused on Vera (Elena Anaya), a beautiful young woman held captive by the doctor and under 24/7 surveillance. Throw in a mysterious housekeeper (Marisa Paredes), a violent intruder dressed in a tiger suit, sexual encounters gone horribly wrong, philosophical musings about human identity and a serious "ick" factor, and you have one of Almodóvar's most daringly extreme cinematic visions and one of Banderas' most perversely compelling performances.
The movie is scheduled to open in L.A. later this fall. Almodóvar will serve as the guest artistic director of the American Film Institute's 25th AFI Fest in Hollywood in November.
-- Reed Johnson