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The Skin I Live In gets under yours

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THE SKIN I LIVE IN

***

DIRECTED BY Pedro Almodovar

STARS Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya

Step aside, children: It's time to let the adults come out and play. Anyone not interested in tracking the romantic travails of the Twilight and Like Crazy hipsters will take delight in the disturbing relationships coursing through The Skin I Live In, the latest blaze of originality from writer-director Pedro Almodovar.

Antonio Banderas, who starred in five Almodovar films before making the leap to American cinema, reunites with the Spanish auteur for this patently bizarre drama in which a plastic surgeon, haunted by the fiery car crash that engulfed his wife, spends years attempting to invent a durable, synthetic skin. With his assistant (Marisa Paredes), he experiments on a lovely young woman (Elena Anaya) held captive in his home, an emotionally fraught situation made even more explosive by the arrival of a freak (Roberto Alamo) from their collective pasts.

Almodovar is known for writing more meaty roles for women than just about anyone else out there, so filmgoers might be startled at some of the horrors endured by Anaya's character. But by the end, it all makes sense — it's the journey itself that provides the unexpected, often queasy twists and turns. Let's just say that the recent Shrek spinoff isn't the only Antonio Banderas film that could have been released with the title Puss in Boots.

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