Film goers, some of them prize winners from America, deserted a screening of the Spanish thriller La Piel que Habito in droves during the Cannes Film Festival.
Whenever I hear about audiences bailing on a new foreign flick because of extreme scenes I’m almost always sure the viewers were just being too sensitive or at least should have been prepared for the possibility of what they were going to see. But if the basic premise of the Pedro Aldomovar directed film The Skin I Live In based on the French novel Mygale is portrayed accurately then I think I might have high tailed it out too.
Let me summarize the gist of the plot and see if you agree with my assertion. Antonio Banderas portrays Dr. Robert Ledgard, a brilliant surgeon that kidnaps a man who raped his daughter. This rape caused the Dr.’s daughter to commit suicide which drives Banderas’ character into a world of revenge filled madness. How mad you ask?
In what seems like an attempt to out shock the premise of the recently popular film The Human Centipede, Dr. Ledgard performs a sex change operation on the rapist, transplants his daughter’s face on to his body and then later has intercourse with this man. Accounts of the film indicate exactly that story line is acted out in vivid and disturbing detail throughout the film. As you can imagine some of those who were there in Cannes were unable to handle the violence and left far before the conclusion.
Here is an official trailer for the film that only hints at the brutal visuals:
The sweepstakes winners from America were on hand after having been selected by Stella Artois and flown to France to enjoy a once in a lifetime premiere event. This group left after a particularly violent rape scene during the middle of the film. When the doc has relations with the man who now has his daughter’s countenance even some of the hearty French audience members left! You have to work at offending French film viewers in Cannes folks.
Despite many having left the theater a great number of those who remained throughout gave the film a standing ovation. This love for the film was shared by critics and the powers that be at Cannes as it was selected as a finalist for the festival’s top award, the Palme d’or which would eventually be given to Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life.
Here is a great clip of Banderas candidly discussing the film in an interview from Cannes:
“Not doing a hamburger but a very complicated dish that tastes different than anything you have tried before” – Banderas on The Skin I Live In.
Starring alongside Banderas is an up and coming Spanish actress, Elena Anaya, whom from all accounts will be an American household name in the near future. I am certainly intrigued by the film while at the same time not sure if I plan to try and survive a viewing of it. How about you?