In "The Skin I Live In," the new film from Pedro Almodóvar opening Friday, Antonio Banderas portrays a complex and diabolical control freak, a plastic surgeon haunted by a tragic past. The rich, handsome doctor is keeping a beautiful young woman, Vera (Elena Anaya), captive in the fortress-like home he shares with his sinister housekeeper, Marilia (Marisa Paredes, another of Almodóvar's longtime accomplices). The reasons for this are revealed as the film unfolds.
Clad in a flesh-colored body stocking and kept under constant camera surveillance while she sleeps, eats and practices yoga, Vera harbors a secret that can't be breached by the doctor's gleaming knives. Slicing and splicing multiple ideas and emotions, "The Skin I Live In" is an Almodóvarian blend of kink, exuberance, sly cultural allusions and questions about human identity.
Almodóvar and Banderas, both Spaniards, began their collaborations some 25 years ago, with films including "Matador" (1986), "Law of Desire" (1987) and "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (1988); "Skin" reunites them for the first time in about two decades. The two talked in a Thursday Times piece about their long friendship (you can read it here). See below for an exclusive look at the film and how it was put together:
-- Reed Johnson
Photo: Pedro Almodovar, left, and Antonio Banderas kiss Elena Anaya during a photo call presenting their movie "The Skin I Live In" in Rome. Credit: Virginia Farneti/Associated Press