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Under the Skin

1 rating: 1.0
A movie

Iris (Samantha Morton, SWEET & LOWDOWN, JESUS' SON) a young working class English woman, loses herself in a string of casual lovers as a way of coping with the death of her beloved mother (Rita Tushingham, A TASTE OF HONEY). A powerful festival … see full wiki

Genre: Drama
Release Date: January 1, 1997
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Under the Skin

Under The Skin 1997 - Your body betrays your soul**

  • Dec 19, 2003
Pros: ..........

Cons: ...........

The Bottom Line: ____________

I was definitely torn about this movie. While it does represent how the mind and body reacts to grief in the loss of a parent/loved one, it was also a fairly bad movie. I work with a lot of exchange students and find it hardest to understand the British when speaking. Generally they have low, quiet speaking voices and speak very rapidly. No offense to the British speaking folk out there, it is my hang-up and not the general rule for most people I assume.

Samantha Morton as Iris and Claire Rushbrook as Rose are sisters. Not particularly close but friendly. Iris seems a bit more wild than Rose, who is married and pregnant. Iris has always considered that Rose was their mothers favorite and as a result probably adopted this outlandish nature to compensate for her supposed lack of affection or love from her mother.

We learn at the beginning that mother has developed a brain tumor and is not long in this world. She tries chemo for a while but in the end decides it just isn’t for her, she’d rather just go ahead and pass gently into the night. Her death and how it affects the girls is the basis of the story.

Iris has always appeared stronger and more in control of her feelings. She leaves her boyfriend and seeks a series of one-night-stands looking for love in all the wrong places. Rose, the softer and hear-on-her-sleeve girl seems to become stronger after her mother’s death, more independent.

The crux of the story depends on the interaction between these sisters, their individual breakdowns and the resultant reality by both.

Under The Skin was an indie film written and directed by Carine Adler. It won a ton of awards for an indie:
Jean Carment Award from Angers Europen First Film Festival
BSFC Award, Best Actress, Samantha Morton & Best New Filmmaker, Carine Adler
Edinburgh International Film Festival, Best New British Feature
Gijón International Film Festival, Best Actress, Samantha
Seattle International Film Festival, New Director’s Showcase, Adler
FIPRESCI, International Critics’ Award, Toronto, for its examination of grief

Samantha Morton was both whimsical and hard in this release. While she alluded to a tough exterior, she expressed her grief in quite a different fashion. Although she did an admirable performance in the movie I wouldn’t seek her film work out otherwise. She spoke very quietly, even when yelling, mumbled her words a good deal and wasn’t as expressive as I would have like physically.

Claire Rushbrook was more outspoken, her voice held more timbre than Morton’s. She was one of those girls that look like they will go to plump in older years, pretty and full figured. Between her and Morton, I liked her presentation and her character much better although I often found her whiny.

Mum was played by Rita Tushingham. Her ‘live’ parts in the movie were short and sporadic although she appeared several times after her death to Iris. For some reason she reminded me of Ellen Burstyn in ‘Requiem For A Dream’. Kind of edgy and needy.

Overall the production was well done, camera work was decent and the script was worthy. In all it became a love/hate relationship for me so I will probably recommend the movie, but tentatively.

Lotta sex and naked bodies, beware


** their words, not mine


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