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After suffering deep gashes to her leg from an accidental fall, Esther (Marina de Van), a young research analyst, becomes preoccupied with her body and skin, especially her wounds. At first, she merely caresses her arms, pinches her excess skin, or traces the cuts on her legs, but it isn't long before she is carving wounds directly and aggressively into her own body. Her boyfriend (Laurent Lucas) becomes understandably concerned and angry, but his inability to understand forces Esther into reclusion to explore her newfound passion. Increasingly unhinged - to situations of perverse dark humor - Esther seems determined to continue her compulsion until the removal from her own body is complete.
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Much like Roman Polanski's Repulsion, In My Skin chronicles a young woman's descent into madness. Esther (Marina de Van) accidentally gashes her leg at a party, but instead of being alarmed by the sight of her torn flesh, she becomes fascinated by it. She begins cutting herself, much to the dismay of her best friend (Lea Drucker) and boyfriend (Laurent Lucas), who are unnerved by her refusal to discuss her actions. From there things only get more horrifying, but it's not simply the fact of self-mutilation that makes In My Skin compelling, it's the movie's acute depiction of psychological dislocation. This is not a movie for everyone--the cutting is unsettlingly realistic and vivid--but viewers drawn to portraits of emotional extremity (like, for example, The Piano Teacher) will find In My Skin gripping. Written and directed by de Van, who co-wrote Francois Ozon's 8 Women and Under the Sand. --Bret Fetzer
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