.

The Reflecting Skin

Viggo Mortensen, Lindsay Duncan, Jeremy Cooper, Sheila Moore, Duncan Fraser

Directed by Philip Ridley
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
September 9, 1990

It's not your average vampire movie; this one's got aspirations. Philip Ridley, the British painter-illustrator-novelist who turned screenwriter with the mesmerizing 1990 gangster film The Krays, debuts as a director with a perversely alluring work he describes as "Blue Velvet with children."

Ridley's script revolves around Seth Dove (a superb Jeremy Cooper), an eight-year-old growing up in the Fifties on the Idaho prairie (the film was shot in Canada). Seth's mother, Ruth (Sheila Moore), is strict with him, doting only on her older son, Cameron (Viggo Mortensen), a soldier on an atomic-testing mission in the Pacific. Ruth barely tolerates her husband, Luke (Duncan Fraser), a mechanic shamed by a past scandal in which the local sheriff found him and an underage boy "in full embrace."

Luke reads pulp novels, one with a cover illustration of a woman vampire that the impressionable Seth thinks is their English neighbor, Dolphin Blue (the smashing Lindsay Duncan). Dolphin's been a recluse since her husband's suicide. But when Seth and his pals — Eben (Codie Lucas Wilbee) and Kim (Evan Hall) — play a nasty trick on Dolphin, Ruth forces Seth to apologize. Dolphin's house, filled with whaling gear, fascinates Seth. Later, he watches her masturbate.

Ruth's sexual fears are soon heightened by violence. Eben is found drowned. When Luke is accused, he torches himself. Then Kim is murdered. Seth has seen four men driving around in a black Caddy, but he suspects only Dolphin, who has now taken up with his brother, home for their father's funeral. Some of this arty Freudian posturing about a boy's head-on collision with sex, sin and death is ponderous. But Ridley is a visionary, and his haunting film, luminously shot by Dick Pope, exerts a hypnotic pull. Through a child's eyes, Ridley confronts us with our own primal fear of the dark.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    • Child of God
      star rating
      Well Go USA Entertainment
    • lucy
      star rating
      Universal Pictures
    • star rating
      IFC Films
    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Love Is the Answer”

    Utopia | 1977

    The message of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" proved to be a universal and long-lasting one, which Utopia revisited 10 years later on this ballad. "From a lyrical standpoint, it's part of a whole class of songs that I write, which are about filial love," Todd Rundgren explained. "I'm not a Christian, but it's called Christian love, the love that people are supposed to naturally feel because we are all of the same species. That may be mythical, but it's still a subject." Though "Love Is the Answer" wasn't a hit, a cover version two years later by England Dan & John Ford Coley peaked at Number Ten on the Billboard singles chart.

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com