Almodovar catches Cannes off guard with horror film

Thu May 19, 2011 1:00pm EDT
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By Nick Vinocur

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Horror, suspense and plastic surgery gone wild made for an explosive mix Thursday with "The Skin I Live In," a step into darker ground for Spanish director Pedro Almodovar as he aims for the top prize at Cannes.

The film starring Antonio Banderas and Marisa Paredes is a radical departure for the director, whose typically funny and colorful films have won him two prizes at Cannes, but never the Palme d'Or for best picture.

Adapted from a French novel, "The Skin I Live In" is the twisted story of a plastic surgeon -- Banderas -- who develops a revolutionary new flame- and malaria-proof skin after his wife is horribly burned in a car crash.

Tragedy strikes twice when his daughter commits suicide, leading him into a tale of revenge, imprisonment and abuse in an unusually tense turn by the Oscar-winning director of "Talk To Her," "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" and "Volver."

Dark and thought-provoking, "The Skin I Live In" draws on horror and science fiction genres to explore what happens when a scientist loses touch with humanity, offering a modern take on the 1931 classic "Frankenstein."

The director said he delved into medical literature while researching his movie, which poses questions about the potential dangers of new technologies like genetic engineering and growing human organs in a laboratory.

"It's not science fiction because these experiments already exist -- there is a laboratory in Granada where they make artificial skin," Almodovar said at a press conference after a packed press screening.

"I wanted suspense but without gore, without blood -- there are a lot of incisions in the movie but I did not want it to be a gory film," he added.   Continued...