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UNDER THE SKIN

SYNOPSIS:
Iris (Samantha Morton) and Rose (Claire Rushbrook) compete for their motherís love. Iris (19) is convinced that Rose (24), happily married and pregnant, is her motherís favourite. It comes as a devastating shock to both sisters when their mother dies suddenly of cancer. Unable to grieve, Iris loses all sense of herself and starts on a path of self-destruction. She leaves her job, breaks up with her boyfriend Gary (Matthew Delamere) and becomes promiscuous. Her irrational behaviour isolates her from her friends, and she grows lonely and lost. She sinks lower and lower, being humiliated, mugged and used. The overwhelming chaos of Irisís life has now touched Rose and the two finally share the pain and confusion of their motherís death.

"Carine Adlerís feature debut is a revealing look at a young girlís way of coping after the death of her mother. Dealing with the sensitive issue, Adler broaches the subject with poignancy, sensitivity and strength. It is a brutal depiction of emotional devastation and grief experienced by the greatest of losses. Adler has based the ideas on forensic psychiatrist Estela Welldonís book Mother, Madonna, Whore, where the basic premise is that men externalise their anger and grief, while women internalise it and head down a path of self-depravation, mutilation or promiscuity. Interesting concept, and one that could no doubt be the forum for much discussion. Under the Skin is a powerful exploration, canvassing phases of denial, anger, self-hatred and losing all sense of self and self-respect. It shows the black sordid path to nowhere that a profound emotional tragedy or shock can bring. We humans are a complex lot, and our emotional persona is often hidden, even to ourselves. The great power of Adlerís film comes from the handling of this extremely complex subject. The juxtapositioning of scenes such as the coffin being enflamed at the crematorium with scenes of sexual promiscuity are unsettling and make for emotional discomfort. The cast is tops, with a stand-out performance by Samantha Morton, whose plaintive, child/woman vulnerability shines on the screen. Compelling to watch, Under the Skin is sad, poignant, moving and revealing cinema. Insightful, it goes to the core of human emotions, making a complete journey."
Louise Keller

"This is a problematic film from the outset. Tough, uncompromising and overtly sexual, Under the Skin has an audacious quality about it in its exploration of themes ranging from sexuality, to death, to finding one's inner self. In fact, thematically, there's nothing new here. There are many impressive moments, including a strong start, and a beautifully poetic finale, but in between, it has a pointless meandering quality to it. The character of Iris, though faultlessly played by newcomer Samantha Morton, seems under-defined and shallow, making her a tough character to empathise with. The middle of the film is intensely dark and depressing, which makes its upbeat ending, though nicely handled, somewhat of an oddity. Though there is much power in this debut feature by writer/director Carine Adler, it lacks a central spirit that it desperately craves."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0
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UNDER THE SKIN (R)
(UK)

CAST: Samantha Morton, Claire Rushbrook Rita Tushingham, Christine Tremarco, Stuart Townsend, Matthew Delamere, Mark Womack, Clare Francis, Joe Tucker, Daniel OíMeara, Crissy Rock

DIRECTOR: Carine Adler

PRODUCER: Kate Ogborn

SCRIPT: Carine Adler

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Ackroyd

EDITOR: Ewa J. Lind

MUSIC: Ilona Seracz

PRODUCTION DESIGN: John-Paul Kelly

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 26, 1998

AWARDS: Critics Prize Toronto Film Festival 1997; Critics Prize Edinburgh Film Festival 1997; Best British Film Edinburgh Film Festival 1997 (Michael Powell Award); Selection for Best of British Renaissance, Venice Film Festival 1997.







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