I chose to review this film because it tackles the notoriously taboo subject of self harm. The film is shocking and disturbing but intelligently manages to explore the subject in a non gratuitous or exploitive way. It is credit to the Director, Marina de Van that the film doesn’t descend into shock horror or sensationalism as it could have quite easily done so.

Marina de Van as well as Directing plays the main character Esther, a young professional woman, who accidentally injures her leg at a party one night.  Although the wound is a pretty severe one, she barely feels it, at least until she examines it up close, and even then her primary reaction is one of curiosity rather than pain or horror.  She later finds herself picking at the cut in times of stress or agitation and even creates a new gash she can jab and poke at.
This is the start of an all-consuming obsession which grows to such an extent that in the midst of a business dinner Esther can barely keep from hacking at one of her arms under the table; she ends up checking into a hotel where she spends the remainder of the night ecstatically slicing and gnawing her afflicted arm nearly to the bone.  The following day she stages a phony car accident to appease her understandably distraught boyfriend, but her next bout of mutilation is even more severe.  This time Esther slashes her face, takes numerous photos of her wounds and cuts a large patch of knee skin that she keeps stuck to one of her breasts.  Another, even more apocalyptic slash-a-thon is imminent–the final scene is an open-ended one, but the suggestion seems to be that Esther takes her obsession to its logical, deadly conclusion.

Dans Ma Peau (In My Skin)
Director: Marina De Van
Language: French with English Subtitles
Certificate: 18
Release: 2004
Distributor: Tartan DVD

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