Under the Skin

Newcity Chicago

DIRECTED BY: Carine Adler

REVIEWED: 09-21-98

Carine Adler's powerful first feature, filled with delirium and orgasms that do not offer release, can break the heart in several ways: its agile, inquisitive style brims with grit and color, and all for one effect: to capture Samantha Morton's emotionally naked performance as Iris, a Liverpool woman who mourns the sudden death of her mother (Rita Tushingham, anguished in a brief part) through bursts of promiscuous self-destruction. Iris seeks out men, bad men, angry men, with fury, punching affection full in the face, fucking so that words are unnecessary. Self is unnecessary. Morton is young and her acting so unguarded. What can replace the love of Iris' mother? The love she still does not understand? Despair. Humiliation. Bold, angry acts of anger, tempting danger with every glance. Most affectingly, Adler offers Iris a way out of her miseries that does not seem phony or out of place, a way away from peril that is psychologically plausible yet also heartening. Iris has a future; the sick, sad child can become an adult who understands her needs instead of always trying in vain to bat them away. 85m.

--Ray Pride

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