The Invitation (previous title : Finding Out)
The Invitation UK
Director : Carine Adlar
* 1997 UNDER THE SKIN (81 mins./UK/English), As Director/Writer
* 1994 FEVER, As Director/Writer
[About the director]
Carine Adler was trained at the National.Film & Television School. Since graduating she has directed the documentary EDWARD'S FLYING BOAT for Channel Four and a short drama, FEVER, starring Katrin Cartlidge, for the BFI and Channel Four. In 1996 she wrote and directed UNDER THE SKIN Starring Samantha Morton, Claire Rushbrook and Rita Tushingham, which won the Michael Powell Award for Best Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival, the Scotland on Sunday Critics Award, and the International Critics Award at the Toronto Film Festival, all in 1997. UNDER THE SKIN was screened at the 1998 International Film Festival Rotterdam.
Laura is 16-year-old and lives in a provincial seaside town on the South Coast of England. One day she meets an intriguing stranger, who changes her life.
Robert, 38, a driven and haunted character is on the run. He arrives in the small provincial seaside town where Laura lives. Laura is a sweet and trusting 16-year-old. Her mother dotes on her older brother who is cleverer than Laura and her younger sister who is prettier. Her father just tries to keep out of everyone's way. Laura is naive and romantic in contrast to her school friends who are all sexually active. Neglected by her parents, ignored by her friends Laura has nowhere she feels she belongs.
Whilst working at her Saturday job selling candyfloss on the pier Laura meets Robert. He is attractive, looks much younger than his age and to her surprise from all the girls he could have chosen he has singled her out for attention. He makes her feel special, important and she falls in love. Unbeknownst to her parents and her friends, Laura is seeing more and more of Robert. She finds the mystery of his past fascinating and tries to find out more about him, where he comes from, what he does, but he is elusive and this only draws her in further.
When her parents and sister go to visit her brother at university Robert comes to stay with Laura at her family home. There, Robert encourages Laura to dress up for him in her school uniform, watches pornography and films her with a video camera. However, strangely he refuses to consummate their relationship, saying it's because he wants to keep her pure and virginal. In the romanticized scenario that Laura has created around them she increasingly slips into this strange and perverse sexual relationship, unaware of the danger she is in. By the time her parents are due to return the mutual dependency between them is so great that when Robert decides to leave Laura must go too.
In the next town Laura withdraws her savings. Robert becomes increasingly edgy and nervous. They stay in a smart hotel and again Robert won't make love to her. He turns away and cries. Later that evening he confesses that he has lied to her. He had told her that his wife was dead; the truth is he doesn't have a wife. Robert tries to convince Laura that they are different from everyone else, that they don't have to live by the same rules. Meanwhile, back at home Laura's parents have arrived back to discover that Laura is missing. Realizing at long last how much they have neglected her they contact the police, determined to find her. As Robert and Laura travel from seaside town to seaside town, the police are closing in on them, the search for Laura having widened (without her knowledge). Robert takes Laura to London hoping to be able to become invisible in the anonymity of the city. However, as they arrive the police are waiting for them. Laura is reunited with her anxious family. Instead of running from the police, this time Robert finally gives himself up. Through his confession and the videos that the police have found on him the truth is finally revealed.
Robert does have a past and one that is more terrible than Laura and we could have imagined.
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