The Skin I Live In
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The Skin I Live In
Plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard was successful in cultivating an artificial skin resistant to burns and insect bites, which he calls "GAL", that he says he has been testing on athymic mice. He presents his results in a medical symposium but when he privately discloses he has also conducted illegal transgenic experiments on humans, he is forbidden to continue with his research.
While Ledgard disposes of Zeca's body, Marilia tells Vera that she (Marilia) is the mother of both Zeca and Ledgard by different men, a fact she has not shared with them. Ledgard was adopted by Marilia's employers, but was ultimately raised by her. Zeca later left to live in the streets and smuggle drugs, while Ledgard went to medical school and married a woman named Gal. When Zeca returned years later, he and Gal ran off together. They were involved in a terrible car crash in which Gal was badly burnt. Zeca had left the scene assuming her to be dead, while Ledgard had taken her from the car (in the present, Zeca had mistaken Vera for Gal, something she did not deny). Thereafter she lived in total darkness without any mirrors. One day, while hearing her daughter Norma singing in the garden, Gal accidentally sees her own reflection in the window; traumatized by the sight, she jumps to her death.
Ledgard tracks down Vicente and while in disguise, knocks Vicente off his motorbike, kidnaps him, and holds him in captivity. Vicente's mother reports his disappearance to the police, but after they find his motorbike at the bottom of a cliff, they tell her he is likely dead and has been swept out to sea. Although she believes her son is still alive, her search for him remains unsolved. Meanwhile, Ledgard subjects him to a vaginoplasty and later instructs him how to slowly stretch his new vagina. Over a period of six years, Ledgard physically transforms Vicente into a replica of his late wife, and renames him Vera. During this period of time, Vicente struggles to keep himself sane and cling to the core of his true identity.
Vicente, a young chap who works with his mother designing clothes, consumes drugs, and lives a carefree life. He also has the hots for his co-worker, Cristina, who is gay. Popping a pill, Vicente heads off to the same party Norma happens to be.
The wealthy, intimidating surgeon Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) lives and works in his walled villa outside of town. He has dropped out of the medical community rather than discontinue experiments considered unethical. Aided only by a devoted housekeeper, Marilia (Marisa Paredes), he keeps a strange, beautiful woman named "Vera Cruz" (Elena Anaya) prisoner in an ornate room lined with TV cameras that he monitors on a giant wall screen. Vera wears a contoured body suit made of a surgical webbing-like material, including a partial mask. Robert's forbidden research has developed a fantastic new skin substitute grown genetically from human and pig DNA -- it is so strong that a blowtorch does not harm it. We learn that this new skin has completely replaced Vera's epidermis, piece by piece. What follows is a grotesque tangle of relationships, crimes, tragedies and abominable surgery. Robert has an unstable brother, Zeca (Roberto Álamo), a fugitive who returns wearing a bizarre Carnival costume. Zeca commits a rape, confusing Vera with Robert's deceased wife. Robert also mourns his daughter Norma (Blanca Suárez), who was raped after a party several years before; Robert exacted a terrible vengeance on the boy supposedly responsible, Vicente (Jan Cornet). The storyline becomes a tangle of flashbacks that reveal one horror after another. Through it all Robert Ledgard remains convinced that his actions are justified by his superior knowledge and skills. Several colleagues sometimes join him in performing illegal surgeries at the villa, usually for high-paying customers; one of them tries to blackmail Robert into continuing the practice. But the bizarre events continue until most of the