Critics are quick to point out that Carine Adler was in her forties when she directed her first feature film, Under the Skin (1997). (She is no "twenty something headstrong film gal using her first feature film as therapy," said Sarah Jameson in Movies by Women.) Among Adler's other work as writer and director are the short films, Jamie (1980), made at the National Film and Television School, and Fever (1994), a model for Under the Skin.
A BFI/Channel Four production, Under the Skin was made in association with Rouge Films and the Merseyside Film Production Fund. The film won critical acclaim and received the Michael Powell Award for Best British feature film at the 1997 Edinburgh International Film Festival, Critics Award at the 1997 Toronto International Film Festival, and was an Official Selection at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.
The film, while British in its setting in Merseyside, reveals its connections to British and international cinema, and Adler has acknowledged indebtedness not only to Ken Loach but also to Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai. Reviewers have described Under the Skin as a "raw", "unnerving", and "brilliant" exploration of a young woman's "sexual odyssey". It is woman-centered, focusing on maternal-daughter, sister-sister relations, language and the formation of the feminine subject and the female body as expressive of conflicts over femininity and social conformity. Under the Skin is a contribution to British feminist theory and its expression through cinema.