Title – Under the Skin (2013)
Director – Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast)
Cast – Scarlett Johansson
Plot – Based on Michel Faber’s book, Under the Skin is about a being not from this world (Johansson) who disguised as a women, lives out it’s days and nights in Scotland preying on male victims for seemingly sinister motivations. As the days and victims pile up however this mysterious women starts to learn more and more about what it is to be human and what is truly under the skin.
“You’re not from here? Where are you from?”
Review by Eddie on 25/07/2014
One thing you’ll learn from Under the Skin as a certain is, it’s a good thing that Scarlett Johansson has a valid driver’s license for she sure clocks up some miles in this Jonathan Glazer Sci-Fi oddity. It’s nice that we get this as a solid fact as everything else in this often intriguing, sometimes beautiful and occasionally haunting film is very much left for interpretation in a tale that makes no plans to give the audience easy answers or appeal to their thirst for solid facts on what’s actually happening here in Glazer’s Scotland set world.
Likely to lose many viewers in an attention sense or also plain giving up sense, Under the Skin starts off odd and just rolls with that theme for its entire 100 plus minute run time. At the centre of the tale we have de-beatified Hollywood star Johansson as an alien being seemingly tasked with collecting men in her van and bringing them back to her “nest” to capture for reasons we are never totally aware of. Johansson has never been so striped back (figuratively and literally) in a role that requires her to be all types of cold and distant. Johansson is memorable in her nameless role, whether it’s picking up unsuspecting victims via a drive by (many of whom were everyday people targeted by the film crew) or in the film’s most chilling moment on a beach being startlingly unaffected by human emotion. It’s in these instances of human emotion that Under the Skin looks to delve into and sadly fails to capitalise on.
With clear resonating’s on human sexuality, desire, lust, love and emotion, Under the Skin is a powder keg of different deep delving’s yet it’s not utterly in command of them or also to its detriment entirely original in its eventual findings. As our nameless female’s journey changes course so does the films, leading towards a lacking last act that makes the tale less the sum of its parts. It’s a shame Glazer losses a hold on the material at his disposal, as along with Johansson’s solid and unflattering turn Glazer has a stark and memorable time behind the camera that is accompanied by an extremely effective score by Mica Levi which combines to the undeniable fact that Under the Skin has moments of utter brilliance.
A movie likely to divide viewers straight down the middle between love and confused dislike, Under the Skin does indeed do as its title suggests yet does not combine into a satisfactory whole. While there is much to appreciate in the skill displayed in a movie making sense and commitment to the cause, it’s sadly unlikely that Under the Skin will be remembered as a classic of the genre that it could of well been. Still it must’ve been great driving practice for Scar-Jo.
2 and a half pieces of chocolate cake out of 5