Under The Skin

  • 1997
  • 1 HR 23 MIN
  • NR

Samantha Morton gives an absolutely riveting performance as a young woman teetering on the brink of emotional collapse in the wake of her mother's death. Iris (Morton) and her older sister Rose (Claire Rushbrook) are different in a ways that only sisters can be: Both in their 20s, Rose is a responsible married woman with a baby on the way and a steady job...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Samantha Morton gives an absolutely riveting performance as a young woman teetering on the brink of emotional collapse in the wake of her mother's death. Iris (Morton) and her older sister Rose (Claire Rushbrook) are different in a ways that only sisters can be:

Both in their 20s, Rose is a responsible married woman with a baby on the way and a steady job at a travel agency. Iris, on the other hand, is a childish, aspiring singer who lives with her boyfriend and is jealous of Rose's close relationship with their mother (Rita Tushingham). Both are equally

shattered when Mum dies suddenly, but while Rose begins processing the reality of her loss, Iris loses all sense of who she is. She introduces herself to strangers as "Rose" and dons her mother's wig, fur coat and lingerie to troll sleazy pickup bars for anonymous sex. It's a dangerous, clearly

self-destructive sort of sexual liberation, and as Iris begins drinking heavily, her choices of one-night stands grows increasingly reckless. First-time writer-director Carine Adler's portrait of emotional disintegration is in many ways as harrowing as Roman Polanski's REPULSION, thanks in large

part to Morton's terrifying performance; she forgoes the predictable twisted-sister histrionics for a seductive giddiness that barely hides a chilling vacancy. Her personal disintegration is echoed in the film's stylish chaos: Dissolves, jump-cuts and disorienting shifts of focus effectively draw

the viewer into Iris's growing dislocation. Adler's inexperience is apparent only in the occasional repetitive scene and an ending whose patness would be more disturbing if you weren't so relieved by it.

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