Picks and Pans Review: Under the Skin

updated 06/08/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/08/1998 01:00AM

Samantha Morton, Claire Rushbrook

When her mother gets sick, a 19-year-old woman (Morton) panics. "She's going to die, and she hasn't even noticed me yet," the woman says in Under the Skin, an unsettling British drama. When Mom does die, Morton goes to pieces. She quits her job. She moves out of the flat she shares with her boyfriend. She takes to wearing her mother's blonde wig and ratty fur coat and, looking and acting like a floozy, picks up inappropriate men for inappropriate sex.

Observing all this is her married, pregnant, older sister (Rushbrook, the sullen daughter in Secrets & Lies), who is distracted by her own grief. How these two siblings finally come to understand themselves, each other and their mother's death makes for an emotionally draining but absorbing film. Under the Skin, as written and directed by Carine Adler and acted with fierce intensity by Morton, reaches you exactly where the title promises. (Not rated)

Bottom Line: A small, compelling film about a woman going under

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