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Although married and pregnant Rose has always been Mother's favorite, it is younger sister Iris whose life is shaken up by Mother's death. Suffocating, Iris spirals out of control and copes by losing herself in sexual oblivion. She leaves her steady, Gary, for a steady stream of one night stands in the arms of mysterious strangers, alienating Gary, Rose, her friends, and her employers in the process. Will this go on until she loses everything that is meaningful to her? Written by
Martin Lewison <email@example.com>
When I was small my mother was everything to me. I thought she was beautiful, and I wanted to be like her. I used to try and smile, walk and talk just like her; I even practiced laughing like she did. My mother loved flowers, and her favourite flowers were roses. And so she called my sister Rose. And she called me Iris.
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"Under the Skin" could be simply, though inaccurately summarized as simply the story of two sisters dealing with the death of their mother, with one sister becoming sexually loose as a means of escapism.
But the story runs much deeper than that. Samantha Morton plays the British version of a sexually "used" American male. She frets about calling a lover, she is mistreated when she does. She makes bad decisions in choosing lovers, and loses in the end with most of them.
"Under the Skin" presents a realistic portrayal of how sexual escapism only does so much, how it only paints the faintest of illusions of comfort and companionship. It is only a silkscreen for the real problems of the need for emotional as well as sexual fulfillment as part of companionship.
What makes Morton's portrayal so powerful is its complexity of character. Following her mother's death, Morton's character goes through a series of transformations. First she is the doer, the chooser. It is she who walks out on her boyfriend, she who decides to also cheat on him, she who sleeps with whatever man she wants.
It is Iris, Morton's character who is in control, while her sister Rose is an emotional wreck. She is having a baby, she thinks her husband fancies Iris, she is concerned about her appearance, her weight, and she can't find mum's ashes.
All of this is especially sad because she is mum's favorite daughter.
But then everything changes when Iris is mistreated by several lovers, one of whom physically humiliates and abuses her.
She tries to go back to her boyfriend but finds he doesn't want her. She is left without any money and has no one to turn to except her poor sister.
It is during these series of transformations from power to humiliation that Morton shines. It is no wonder many have called this the film that made her a UK star. It is the film's frankness and realism that is attention-grabbing as well. A true window to the world of random hook-ups. Love isn't very easy to find after all.
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