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Leopard Skin review: A prowling, twisty thriller that lacks cohesion

The first season of Sebastian Gutierrez’s television series is edgy, chilling and intimate, but also disjointed and confused. Leopard Skin is currently streaming on Lionsgate Play

3/5rating
Leopard Skin review: A prowling, twisty thriller that lacks cohesion

A scene from Leopard Skin

  • Reema Gowalla

Last Updated: 02.13 PM, Jan 22, 2023

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STORY: The paradisal, beachside abode of two women - who were once married to the same filthy rich man - get rattled when a gang of criminals hold them hostage in their own house. As they await their fate, petrifying recollections of their past and unsettling desires prove to be more disturbing than the botched jewel heist.   

REVIEW: For starters, there’s plenty of bare derrière scenes that cleverly dovetail with sparkling views of the blue sea and a sprawling tropical estate. The property belonged to Archibaldo de la Colmena, a millionaire playboy, or you can say a man of many relationships. His former wife Alba Fontana (Carla Gugino) now shares the house with Batista ‘Batty’ Ferreira (Gaite Jansen), who ‘Archi’ married after divorcing Alba. Now, both the ladies despise each other, obviously! However, they continue to live under one roof. The house is quietude personified - offering the kind of still life a weary city soul would crave. But instead of enjoying what they have, the current residents are hungry for noise and excitement. Why? Because the whispering waves and rustling palm leaves only add to their anxiety of living meaningless lives. While Alba keeps diving in and out of the pool, Batty mops the floor wearing heels and cooks Palak Paneer for dinner. 

The story of the Peacock original series takes an intrepid turn when one evening while the two women get ready to welcome guests at home - Archi’s friend Max Hammond (Philip Winchester) and his rather cheeky wife Maru (Amelia Eve) - three diamond heist team members enter the house and hold them hostage. Mind you, this heist is in no way connected with the two lead characters. The three criminals - Malone (Gentry White), Sierra (Nora Arnezeder) and Clover (Margot Bingham) - only came to take refuge after one of them suffered a gunshot wound. They were employed by Ray Lasalle (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a corrupt Miami judge. Along the way, you’ll also meet Inocencia (Ana de la Reguera), the househelp who too once had an affair with Archi, and has a child born out of wedlock.  

A still from the series
A still from the series

While the initial episodes are focussed on the botched heist, the narrative suddenly takes a detour to give the audience a peek into the inner psyche of Alba and Batty, who after days of extreme repugnance, have now found peace in each other. They both feel broken inside and wronged by Archi, who somehow infiltrated their consciousness and changed them forever. Coldhearted betrayal is something they both feel too intensely, so much so that at one point Alba makes it a mission to inflict pain on Batty, who, on the other hand, feels she deserves it. She becomes that possessed cat who craves being told what to do every moment of the day - never mind even if it’s in the form of a punishment. That way, Batty - who is suffering from narcolepsy and anxiety - feels that her days are perfectly mapped out and executed. Battling a sense of guilt herself, Alba eventually takes Batty under her wing.            

Archi’s friend Max is making a documentary on the death of his friend, which he thinks would also somehow unravel the mysterious circumstances under which he was found dead. His plans, however, often get detoured, thanks to his wife, who believes that there isn’t any problem that sex and giggles can’t solve. 

A still from Leopard Skin
A still from Leopard Skin

Malone, Sierra and Clover have major trust issues among themselves, as they keep falling out of their plot and pointing the gun at each other. Apart from their foul temper, the three criminals have another thing in common - their animal print underwear. Too many undercurrents and themes make the otherwise suspenseful and sleek narrative incoherent and confusing for the audience. You just can’t put a finger on what the director is trying to say. While the relationship that eventually evolves between Alba and Batty evoke a feeling of love, empathy and compassion that the world probably needs a little more, when juxtaposed with the rest of the plot that seems delinked.  

VERDICT: Leopard Skin makes for a good weekend watch. It’s interesting to explore the inner worlds of Alba and Batty, while you may also find the criminals’ rampant faceoffs amusing. Sparkling poolside shots and aerial views of waves crashing on the beach are a plus too. Is the series a must-watch? Probably not. There’s only so much that leopards reveal about their true spots in the series. 

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