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In My Skin [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9dd85774) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c451240) out of 5 stars Very disturbing view of one woman's descent. 1 May 2005
By Robert Pratte - Published on
Format: DVD
Looking at the reviews, the average reader may decide that this movie sounds harsh, but surely nothing too bad. Trust me, It really IS that harsh. If you cannot stomach pain, blood, etc., then In My Skin isn't for you. I'm not talking about Hollywood violence here; the scenes in this film look very real and are therefore more disturbing. That being said....

This movie does an excellent job pulling the viewer into the main character's (Esther) world. She really is a tragic character, a (highly) updated Ophelia for the modern viewer. As bits of her life have the possiblilty of coming together (new apartment, successful boyfriend, job promotion) things simultaneously begins to fall apart. Like a wound that quickly turns to gangrene, her initial gash soon engulfs her body and emotions. As you watch her descent, scene after scene unfolds where you wish that there was some way to stop her. Yet Esther is moving too quickly as she begins to uncover the deep-seated tendencies that lead to her ultimate undoing.

Who would like this film? I would guess that fans of psychodrama, feminist film, and experimental film may find a lot of worthwhile material here. If you enjoy the films of Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher) or even Maya Deren's "Meshes of the Afternoon" will likely see some interesting resonances.

My bottom line opinion: if you can handle extremely realistic and graphic scenes showing self-inflicted violence and mental illness, and are interested in highly personal / psychodrama, then this is a worthwhile film to see.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c451294) out of 5 stars Not for the squeamish or those with light stomachs. 6 May 2004
By S. Calhoun - Published on
Format: DVD
I remember seeing the trailer for IN MY SKIN in the theatre several months ago and there was an immediate audience reaction to the frank scenes of a woman engaging in acts of self-mutilation, myself included. In spite of my initial whimpering there I was curious about this film, as this is a rare subject matter and sensitive topic to portray. For this reason I decided to rent the DVD to see more about this woman with the tendency to cut herself.
Esther (Marina de Van) is an ambitious career woman with an enduring boyfriend who appears to have everything going for her. While attending a party she accidentally trips in a darkened yard and suffers a serious cut on her calf. One would think that a person who receives such a similar injury would feel the pain immediately and seek out some assistance. Esther, however, only believes that her pants were torn and continues to enjoy the party until she witnesses her trail of blood. Both her doctor and boyfriend are stunned over Esther's lack of feeling for good reasons.
As time progresses Esther realizes that she is strangely soothed by aspect of cutting herself and engages in such behavior behind the backs of others. She continuously feels compelled to harm herself and often hides in public places while taking a sharp object to an appendage of her body. She quickly slides down a downward spiral of aberrant conduct.
An obvious question is why Esther is mutilating herself while risking both her relationship and career. Unfortunately there are no clear answers. Cutting is a serious psychological disorder that is often an outlet for feelings of low self-esteem and lack of control over present circumstances, but Esther's situation remains vague. It was only watching the director's commentary that I received some clarity and insight, and in the fashion of French cinema the relationship of Esther to her body is largely philosophical.
IN MY SKIN is certainly not for everyone due to the numerous blatant scenes of self-mutilation. Its lack of clarity can be annoying and grating and as a result I would definitely recommend watching the director's commentary afterwards to better appreciate this film. 3.5 stars.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d311948) out of 5 stars Intriguing, though not really disturbing. 15 Nov. 2005
By Robert Beveridge - Published on
Format: DVD
Dans ma Peau (Marina de Van, 2002)

There is a short list of films that are revered by connoisseurs of the extreme. Whenever two or more are gathere in one place and talking about their favorite films, you're sure to hear a number of the same names coming up. August Underground. Men Behind the Sun. Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood. Ichi the Killer. Etc. When Dans ma Peau started coming up on a regular basis, I decided I had no choice but to see it.

The story concerns Esther (writer/director Marina de Van, recently of See the Sea and The Sister Brothers), an up-and-coming research analyst who, one night at a party, falls while walking and gashes her leg deeply on a construction tool. She spends the next few hours at the party not realizing she's been injured, and as a result of this, she becomes fascinated with wounds and their associated pain, to the point where she begins cutting herself. This, understandably, alienates her boyfriend Vincent (Laurent Lucas of Who Killed Bambi? Fame) and best friend Sandrine (Lea Drucker, recently seen in Chaos).

What Dans ma Peau does best is raise the idea of ambiguity. Is Sandrine pulling away from Esther because Esther is cutting herself, or because Esther got a promotion Sandrine assumed she'd get? (And, perhaps more to the point, did Esther get that promotion because of the renewed self-confidence she gained when she began cutting?) Is Vincent's relationship with Esther disintegrating because of the cutting, or simply because it's always been stormy, and the two really have nothing in common? And, for the love of all that's holy, what happens five minutes after the end of the film?

The distress that there is to be felt in Dans ma Peau comes mostly from de Van's ambiguous attitude towards cutting. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not transferring from character to director; it's quite obvious throughout how Esther feels about it. It's the ambiguity raised in almost every aspect of this film that leads me to question de Van's take on the whole idea. The obvious answer is that cutting, here, is treated like an extremely addictive drug, complete with withdrawal hallucinations (the restaurant scene will have a morbid, wonderful humor to it for anyone who's suffered through, any filmed depiction of withdrawal), but the ending-- or rather, where de Van chooses to place the ending in the story-- shoots the film's anti-cutting message (if indeed it exists) quite solidly in the foot. More than that cannot be said without spoilers, but at the very least, it may even lead you to wonder whether de Van played the role with far less in the way of special effects than one would otherwise assume.

I wasn't terribly disturbed by it myself, but then cutting has always held a deep attraction for me. I'd probably have felt better about it had the final scene held even a clue to what was about to happen to Esther, but at the very least, the movie is watchable in that extraordinarily-gruesome-car-accident sort of way; once you've started watching, only sheer disgust is likely to tear you away. ***
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c45151c) out of 5 stars In My Skin 1 Jun. 2010
By Carl Manes - Published on
Format: DVD
After receiving a deep gash to her leg in an accident, an obsessive marketing executive develops a compulsion to play with the wound and to cause herself additional bodily harm for her own sick pleasure. This cleanly dressed production tackles the edgy subject of self-mutilation in a way that no other film has in the past. Although it is incredibly horrific, IN MY SKIN focuses its attention on the psychological condition that drives Esther's cutting rather than simply exploiting the gut-wrenching scenes of extreme gore. The film has often been compared to the works of both Roman Polanski and David Cronenberg, and with good reason, as it combines the same delusory behavior that Catherine Deneuve's character experienced in REPULSION with the graphic and nauseating body horror found in SHIVERS or RABID. Marina de Van's devastating performance is disgusting and frightening because it is honest and real. The overriding theme of addiction that she instills in the script stretches far beyond the plot itself, as the topic of self-mutilation could easily be interchanged with any other compulsive behavior and still be just as effective. There is also a sickening sense of realism in every pinch, every cut, and every bite that makes Esther's personal butchery utterly believable. Horror fans that are seeking out the next INSIDE may be sorely disappointed, however those interested in shocking and brutal character studies will find IN MY SKIN to be a modern classic in French cinema.

-Carl Manes
I Like Horror Movies
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c45175c) out of 5 stars An uncomfortable, but compelling film 24 Feb. 2011
By titania86 - Published on
Format: DVD
Esther is a self conscious woman who is moving up in the public relations firm she works at. Her boyfriend wants further their relationship and move in together. Her life is pretty successful as a whole, but this all changes when she goes to a party and she severely cuts her leg open when she falls down in her friends' unfinished backyard. The wound goes unnoticed as she dances and mingles until she goes to the bathroom and sees blood running down her leg. She is shocked at the severity of the injury, but still goes out for drinks with her friends before going to the doctor. While patching her up, the doctor notes that it was unusual that she waited hours to get help. The next day, she goes to work as usual, but she is distracted by her wounds and goes into a private room to create new gouges in her leg. This is the start of her obsession with harming herself. Her boyfriend and her co-workers worry about her and are horrified by her sick impulse, but she does it all the same and going to great lengths to blame the injuries on other things. Why is she hurting herself? Can she stop so she can resume her seemingly idyllic life?

In My Skin is a French film that was written and directed Marina de Van, who also starred as Esther. The film is incredibly disturbing and undeniably original. It's far from the conventional slasher type horror film, but features a more subtle Cronenburgian type of horror. Esther could be any one of us because she is the typical middle class everyman. The real triumph of a work like this is the realism and intimacy of the self mutilation scenes and the lack of any clear, defined reason for it. I like that this prompts the viewer to substitute in their own meanings and think for themselves.

One take on the film is that Esther's motivation for her self mutilation stems from a need to fill the void of her shallow, vapid life, much like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. He focused his violence outwardly and Esther looks within. This view is most apparent during a scene where she's having dinner with her boss and some of their clients. At first, Esther is the model employee, engaging intelligently in conversation and making her boss happy. Then she hallucinates that her arm is separate from her body and becomes distracted, succumbing to her self mutilating urges in the wine cellar of the restaurant. This hollow feeling extends to every part of her life. Her boyfriend is controlling, borderline abusive, and picks a fight at every little opportunity. It's no wonder why she seems passively resistant to moving in together. Esther tells her only friend, a coworker, of her obsession perhaps in a cry for help. The next day, that same friend abandons her and allows her to be humiliated at a work party all because she was jealous that Esther was promoted above her. These are the only two real relationships Esther has and they are revealed to be void of any actual human connection.

Another view of the film is that Esther feels disconnected from her body, much like Dawn from Teeth. Again, this is most exemplified in the restaurant scene with her disembodied arm. The only way her body feels whole again is through pain. The scenes of self mutilation are filmed in an intimate, erotic way, as if it's a twisted form of masturbation for her. From the very beginning, she treats it as an illicit affair: hiding it from her boyfriend, telling her friend to gauge her reaction, and lying to hide how often she does it. She even flaunts the behavior in public like an exhibitionist when she stabs herself under the table at a business dinner, cuts herself at work, and fondles chunks of her flesh on the street. Her love and connectedness with her body can only be shown through blood and pain, but she seems to also get pleasure from it.

The self mutilation in the film can also be taken as a metaphor for self destructive behavior such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or eating disorders. It starts out small. The mutilation goes from cutting to drinking her own blood to cutting parts of her flesh off and eating them. At first, the cutting gives her energy and keeps her focused on work. As it worsens, it consumes her life, making it impossible to function normally. At this stage, the behavior is so extreme that it threatens her life. The blood loss and cutting of pieces of flesh invites infection and the possibility of nicking an artery or major vein and bleeding to death. Any other addictive behavior could have been substituted in and it would have fit perfectly. Her attempts to reach out to her friend seems to be a cry for help, but jealousy and bitterness causes the friend to turn her back on Esther. Her boyfriend seems more concerned about controlling her as opposed to actually helping her.

There are probably a million ways for this film to be interpreted, so I'll stop here. This film definitely isn't for everyone. It's not very gory, but it's guaranteed to make you feel uncomfortable. I highly recommend this film, but be warned that it is slow in some parts. This doesn't bother me at all because I think it fits the type of film that it is, but it might bother some. I watched this film over a year ago for the first time and I still feel the need to rewatch it and re-evaluate my theories on it. I highly recommend this engaging and memorable film.
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