"If there's one thing on which we can constantly rely from Pedro Almodóvar, it's sumptuous home furnishings," suggests the Telegraph's Tim Robey. "Other things would include narrative switchbacks, tragic mothers, surprise sex and wigs. The Skin I Live In, Almodóvar's clinically bizarre new thriller, doesn't disappoint on any of these counts, but it's also the first of his films that you could define as a horror movie, in a smirking sort of way. It's constructed to induce kinky shudders, delivering them with the ghoulish technical flair of a purring master. He's pleased with his new game — perhaps a little too pleased…. I’ve heard the movie described as barking, but it’s like a very sophisticated wind-up toy, barking on command."
"The last time [Antonio] Banderas worked with Almodóvar was for Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! in 1990," notes Dave Calhoun, who also interviews the director for Time Out London. "21 years later, they're back together for an adaptation of Thierry Jonquet's French novel Mygale (Tarantula in English translation), the story of a plastic surgeon, Dr Robert Ledgard (Banderas), whose skills with the knife allow him to take control of a messy personal life in ways unimaginable to anyone but him. Banderas puts in a commanding performance in a film whose thriller tendencies are made doubly interesting by also being an artful study of masks and identities, sex and flesh, bodies and power."
"While Banderas fretted that Almodóvar might have softened, the filmmaker worried that the actor he remembered as a kid from the southern Spanish city of Málaga might have grown less malleable in Hollywood." Justin Davidson chats with the two of them for New York: "'It took us a week or ten days to get used to each other again,' Almodóvar says, 'but then everything picked up from the same point we left off at 21 years ago.'"
More on The Skin I Live In from Peter Bradshaw (Guardian, 4/5), Nina Caplan (New Statesman), Geoffrey Macnab (Independent, 4/5), Emma Simmonds (Arts Desk) and Neil Young (Tribune, 5/10). See, too, the Cannes roundup. Skin opens in the UK today and its next stops before opening in the US on October 14 are the Toronto and New York film festivals. The IMDb has it screening at Telluride as well.
Meantime, it's Almodóvar Month at Nobody Knows Anybody. That's a fun blog-a-thon to explore.
Update, 8/30: New trailer.
Update, 9/1: For Sight & Sound, Kim Newman looks back on the history of "mad movie plastic surgeons."