In Her Skin (2009)
“She hated her own life, so she took someone else’s”
Director: Simone North
Cast: Guy Pearce, Miranda Otto, Ruth Bradley
Synopsis: Tale of a 15-year-old Australian girl who goes missing.
Ruth Bradley, a normally attractive and vivacious Irish actress, goes ugly here to play the seriously disturbed Caroline Reid, a plain, frumpy Australian girl who develops a deadly case of envy over the perfect teen (Kate Bell) for whom she used to baby sit. Caroline is a sloppy, disorganised individual, prone to episodes of depression and epilepsy. She repeatedly writes timetables in exercise books detailing exactly how she will transform herself, but always fails to follow through with them. Four years after baby-sitting for Rachel (Bell) and her younger sister, a kind of psychosis is triggered in Caroline when she sees Kate canoodling on a bench with her boyfriend. Kate has everything Caroline desires but knows she can never have – beauty, grace, a boyfriend – so she hatches a plan to essentially steal Kate’s personality.
There’s a murder in this film, and its surprisingly brutal given the typical parents searching for their missing daughter scenario. Had the film been made by a less capable writer and director than Simone North it would have been in danger of resembling one of those awful US made-for-TV missing kid movies, but North is accomplished enough to provide us with a complex psychological portrait that is frighteningly believable. The structure is a little convoluted, jumping back and forth in time in order to set the scene, but it’s difficult to see how it could have been made any other way. It’s worth 90 minutes of anybody’s time.