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in my mother's skin
Felicity Kyle Napuli appears in In My Mother’s Skin by Kenneth Dagatan, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Epicmedia.

Movie Reviews

[Sundance ’23] ‘In My Mother’s Skin’ review: Grim fairy tale mixes religion and folklore

Misplaced trust.

In My Mother’s Skin mixes Catholicism and Filipino folklore to tell its story of a girl who mistakenly places her trust in a flesh-eating fairy. Tala is exploring the forest when she runs into the mysterious woman. Though there may be a price to pay, the being claims to have the cure for Tala’s ailing mother. Tala ignores the warning, leading to serious consequences for her family. 

The film has an almost fairy tale-like quality to its storytelling. The forest is the type of lush setting often found in these stories. The fairy is beautiful with a magnificent gown complete with sun framing her face. She constantly has a smile that is openly friendly, but seems to be hiding something. In a movie filled with strong performances, the acting from Jasmin Curtis-Smith stands out.

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In My Mother’s Skin opens with a bloody scene and never pulls back on the violence. While it is not a bloodbath from open to close, it does get very gruesome.  The time between these moments allow for the maximum impact of these moments to really sink in. There is an oppressive atmosphere the entire time. This is partially due to the fact the story takes place towards the tail end of World War II. There is also a subplot involving missing gold. Both are pushed to the background, however. It is more a result of the writing and music that the tension is so high.

[Sundance '23] 'In My Mother's Skin' review: Grim fairy tale mixes religion and folklore

In My Mother’s Skin is a grim fairy tale, so do not expect any happy endings. Trust that was already in rare supply has all but disappeared by the time the movie ends.  It is dark, nasty, and even predictable, but always keeps the audience engaged.

The Sundance Film Festival takes place from January 19 -29. Full lineup can be found HERE

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