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IN HER SKIN (director/writer: Simone North; cinematographer: Jules O’Loughlin; editor: Jane Moran; music: Ben Frost; cast: Guy Pearce (Mike Barber), Miranda Otto (Elizabeth Barber), Ruth Bailey (Caroline RedRobertson), Sam Neill (David Reid), Kate Bell (Rachel Barber), Khan Chittenden(Manni), Jack Finsterer (Detective Patterson); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Tony Cavanaugh; IFC Films; 2009-Australia)
The unpleasant narrative makes for a disturbing but not a good drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Boldly proclaimed as a true story, not one inspired by the truth. It tells of a 15-year-old Australian girl, Rachel Barber (Kate Bell), who in March of 1999 goes missing in Melbourne and after a 9-day search it’s discovered that her depressive unstable former babysitter, the 20-year-old Carolyn (Ruth Bailey), strangled her to death. The title tells the motive, as the ugly and fat killer wishes she looked like the beautiful vic.It’s ineffectively written and directed by Simone North.The unpleasant narrative makes for a disturbing but not a good drama. The wooden acting (except for Ruth Bailey’s emotional killer performance) and the awkward framing of the story makes it a poor watch. We unwisely learn very little about the vic, but learn more about the pathetic killer.The story is divided into three parts: the first part focuses on the girl’s hysterical parents, the second part on the killer, and the last part on the victim herself. When the 15-year-old ballet devotee Rachel Barber fails to meet her dad Mike (Guy Pearce) at the train stop after attending a dance exercise, both her father and mother Elizabeth (Miranda Otto) become concerned. Her boyfriend Manni (Khan Chittenden) tells her parents that Rachel told him she had a high-paying job she couldn’t reveal. The police react indifferently, smug in their belief she’s a runaway and frustrate the parents by basically doing nothing but going through the motions. In the third act, when the press learn of the missing girl and write a story on it, Detective Patterson (Jack Finsterer) takes over the investigation and the film turns into a dull police procedural film, as the sicko self-hating killer is hunted down and captured.Sam Neill co-stars as Caroline’s distant and wealthy father.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”