The Skin I Live In
By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Bizarre Almodovar drama is far too intense for kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Most of the behavior here is cruel and vindictive, and some of the motivation is bitter revenge.
Positive Role Models
Nobody here is a role model. All of these people are disturbed, vindictive, dishonest, and deluded.
Violence & Scariness
Very intense. A young man is kidnapped and chained to a wall. After a while, he's forced to undergo sex-change surgery and endless plastic surgery to change his appearance. There's one full-on rape scene (with clothes tearing and repeated thrusting motions) and another attempted rape. Several characters are shot and killed, with lots of blood. A woman tries to kill herself; viewers see cuts all over her body. A burn victim kills herself after seeing her reflection in a window.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man has sex with his daughter's rapist, whom he has forced into having a sex change. Several scenes of female toplessness and naked bottoms. There's a teen "orgy" in the woods, though nothing is shown other than the movement of bodies from a distance and "sexy" moaning sounds. Oral sex and teens with more than one partner are suggested. Some sex talk.
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Language (in Spanish with English subtitles) is strong but not constant; words include "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A young man takes too many pills and confesses to being "high" during a party. He boasts at a later period that he has not taken any pills in "a week."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this boundary-pushing drama/thriller from celebrated Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar (and starring Antonio Banderas) is arguably his most perverse, controversial film to date, even more so than 2004's Bad Education. It contains kidnapping, graphic rape, nudity, sex, burn victims, murder, blood, pill-popping, and a forced sex-change operation, as well as supernatural elements and themes borrowed from the Frankenstein story. The English subtitles contain a few strong words, including "f--k" and "c--t."
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Where to Watch
Based on 2 parent reviews
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A fantasic and unique psychological thriller with intense shock value.
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What's the Story?
Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) has developed a new super-strong skin that's impervious to burns and diseases, though the scientific community frowns on his methods. At home, he keeps a beautiful woman, Vera (Elena Anaya), locked up in a special room; she appears to be the result of his experiments. She manages to seduce him, and in a long flashback, viewers learn the terrible story of Robert's wife, burned in a car crash, as well as his sadistic half-brother, his beloved daughter, and his daughter's pill-popping rapist. How do all these bizarre elements add up, and how will Robert pay for what he's done?
Is It Any Good?
Almodovar is one of the world's most sensual filmmakers, revealing a fearless attitude toward sex, unafraid to show beauty for beauty's sake (such as a shot of Robert working on a Bonsai tree). With The Skin I Live In, Almodovar adopts a playfully wicked attitude, similar to the one director James Whale used on Bride of Frankenstein. It doesn't matter how weird things get in this movie, Almodovar is clearly relishing peeling back layer after layer of this peculiar onion.
This is Banderas' sixth film directed by Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar (their first collaboration since 1990), who has become one of the most famous and successful non-English directors alive today. Like Fellini before him, he's now able to announce a film using only his last name. Also, like Fellini, he has grown ever more perverse and daring, taking on more bizarre subjects. Yet Almodovar remains a rigorous and expert filmmaker, with a craftsman's control over color, space, and tone.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the movie's sexual relationships. Is there anything loving or consensual about any of them? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
How do the film's violent events affect you? Are they horrifying, or do they seem more like dark comedy? Is the violence necessary to the story?
- In theaters: October 14, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: March 6, 2012
- Cast: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Jan Cornet
- Director: Pedro Almodovar
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing violent content including sexual assault, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use and language
- Last updated: April 5, 2023
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