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3.6 out of 5 stars19
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 21 May 2013
I admit. I missed it. There is clearly some sort of metaphor and symbolism at work. The semi-surreal background kept he thinking about what is really happening. Seth Dove(Jeremy Cooper)is a young boy with a wild imagination growing up on a farm in Idaho. He believes the widow (Lindsay Duncan) next door is a vampire. His name oozes with symbolism, but I missed it. I suppose the symbolism involves the title, "The Reflecting Skin" which is mentioned late in the film.

His brother Cameron (Viggo Mortensen) shows up from watching a-bomb tests and falls in love with the woman whose dead husband's name was Adam. More of the metaphor? Adam's first wife was supposed to have been a succubus according to lore. There is diverse religious discussions among the kids involving angels. The black Cadillac??? Was that the grim reaper?

At times I felt I was going to watch another "Sailor Who Fell From Grace From the Sea" combined with "Summer of '42" combined with "Pan's Labyrinth". Sheila Moore, as the mom reminded me of the moms I grew up with before Valium. The movie had been fascinated and interested the whole time. If I had caught the symbolism, I would have perhaps gone 5 stars.

Parental Guide: No f-words, adult themes. Male rear nudity (Viggo) and B&W photo. I obtained this film on a horror film 8-pack at Walmart, although this is not really a horror film.
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on 23 March 2016
Please note that this review discusses details of the plot.

First and foremost, this film concerns the terrifying world of the adults, as seen
through the innocent eyes of a young boy. It is a parable about the horrors of Cold-War America:
The existential threat of the Bomb, the religious hysteria, the persecution of homosexuals.

Sometime in the 1950s, in the middle of a rural nowhere, lives a young boy, Seth Dove.
It is a blighted existence: Father, Luke Dove keeps a derelict gas station, while mother Ruth
tries to keep a semblance of order in a ramshackle house. There is no TV, radio or phone.
The yard is strewn with decaying automotive parts and rusting machinery.
But the fields are golden under the azure sky, and the sun burns bright-much like a nuclear explosion.
Cameron, Seth's older brother is serving in the Army, in the Pacific islands.

Young widow Dolphin Blue, a beautiful, pale blond is Seth's object of latent erotic fascination-
expressed as hostility. Together with buddies Eben and Kim, Seth plays awful pranks on the gentle widow.
Seth's father is a closet homosexual. He escapes the incessant haranguing of his wife by immersing himself
in a cheap pulp about vampires. A casual discussion about this book convinces Seth that Dolphin Blue is a vampire.
When young Eben is found murdered, Seth is certain that it is the vampire's doing. But the deputy Sheriff
accuses Seth's father, because, years ago, he was seen kissing a young man. Devastated by the false accusations,
and humiliated in front of his wife and son, Luke Dove immolates himself in the gas station.

Cameron returns from the Army right after his father's funeral. He tells Seth that he was blowing up the beautiful
Pacific islands-in the (Hydrogen) Bomb tests. He shows Seth the picture of an injured Hiroshima baby.
He claims that the baby's skin had become shiny silver. (Hence the title of the film).
Cameron meets Dolphin Blue, and the two lonesome souls fall hopelessly in love.
But Cameron doesn't realize that he has been affected by radiation sickness: He is losing weight,
his gums bleed, and his hair is falling off. Seth is convinced that all this is caused by the widow's vampiric
affections. Inside a newspaper cocoon, in the barn, Seth discovers a preserved human fetus.
Seth confides to this dead baby his innermost fears about the widow.

Young Kim, Seth's other friend is also murdered. Seth has witnessed Kim's abduction,
and he knows that the perpetrators are a gang of young thrill seekers, riding in a gleaming black car.
But Seth doesn't inform the adults. Instead, he watches passively, when the killers offer unsuspecting
Dolphin Blue "a ride to town". When the lifeless corpse of the widow is discovered, Cameron is shattered.
Only then does Seth realize the enormity of his sin. In the final sunset, Seth-alone like the last human on Earth,
is screaming to the sky and futilely grasping at the soil-or is it nuclear dust?

The outstanding image quality of the Blu-ray does justice to the astounding cinematography of the film.
There's a couple of featurettes with the director, which unfortunately are not subtitled.
Two earlier short film of the director are also included: Visiting Mr. Beak (1987) and The Universe of Dermot Finn (1988)
These are subtitled in English SDH, like the main film. Image quality is of VHS resolution for the first one,
and Standard Definition for the second. They illustrate some common thematic elements with "The Reflecting Skin",
such as weird children, unconventional families, overbearing mothers, and frogs...
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on 22 September 2015
Philip Ridley’s The Reflecting Skin (1990) is odd. Very odd. Set in America during the fifties, the story is about Seth (Jeremy Cooper), a young boy living with his peculiar parents in the middle of a farming community where they own a dilapidated garage. When his friends start disappearing, Seth believes a teacher, Mrs Blue (Lindsay Duncan), is killing them…because she’s a vampire…he thinks…

This is a beautiful film. Nick Pope’s cinematography of wheat fields, dusty roads and lonely houses captures the viewer’s attention. There’s exceptional acting from the wonderful cast: a young Viggo Mortensen plays Seth’s older war hero brother Cameron, Lindsay Duncan is the Miss Havisham of the town, and Sheila Moore as Seth’s mother makes Annie Wilkes from Misery (1990) look like one of the Golden Girls.

The Reflecting Skin is Lynchian in so many ways: the unhinged mother; a touch of the macabre, see the frog scene; shots of a giant American car travelling down an empty road; and the unsettling feeling this might all be a dream; and like a David Lynch film, once you stop trying to understand it, and just enjoy it, the experience heightens.

The film’s greatest strength is the script. Ridley, an author of novels and plays, writes a strange, eerie, creepy, sad and also often funny story. He doesn’t explain anything and trusts the audience to discover the film for themselves.

The Reflecting Skin is a mysterious film. The longer you’re away from it, the more you’ll think about it.
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on 11 February 2013
A masterpiece. Hauntingly beautiful and creepy at the same time. The picture, the pacing, the music are exquisite. I first saw it in the mid-1990-ies, and could never forget, despite hundreds (maybe thousands) of other films I've seen since then.
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on 2 May 2016
A very different, slow burning film. Not sure what genre it really fits into. Probably American gothic. Story of a young boy growing up in a very dysfunctional family in tge Mid West. Lots of strange and upsetting things happen. Great perfornances including from a very young and beautiful Viggo Mortensen! But it's the look of the film that's so brilliant, saturated intebse colours, absolutely breathtaking.
A unique masterpiece from Philip Ridley.
.
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on 23 April 2016
Difficult to know how to describe this. All through, it felt like I might be watching the film version of a great piece of literature such as, Of Mice and Men or To Kill a Mockingbird. Beautiful cinematography capturing Van Goch like scenery combined with a perfect sound score and quite frankly excellent performances make this a treat for anyone who likes cinema.
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on 5 June 2016
Gentle paced film but where unusual events occur. This film is full of surprises! It is candid, not just in terms of the charming and unsullied view of boyhood innocence, but also in terms of the honest portrayal of human emotion in the adults. OK the sheriff was a bit of a character - I am still wondering why he was set to stand out so much from the surroundings.
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on 13 January 2016
Very unusual film and all the more enjoyable for it. Director and actors not scared to go out on a limb. In other words - quality
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on 19 January 2013
A rare horror film so different from all other films, which ought to be more known ! Great, beautiful, moving .... !!!!
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on 22 June 2016
Dull and slow and certainly didn't warrant the average score it's managed to receive. Don't bother.
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