Under the Skin Reviews
A mysterious, and otherworldly, woman (Scarlett Johansson) arrives in Scotland where she wanders and drives around with the intention of seducing lonely men. The encounters she has, lead her to question her own existence as she strives for some meaning to her life and those around her.
Did I hear anyone say Species? Of course, those who are familiar with Roger Donaldson's 1995, B-movie Sci-Fi will undoubtedly make comparisons with the premise of Glazer's third outing but the film itself actually shares more in common with the originality of Nicolas Roeg's 1976 film, The Man Who Fell To Earth. However, these films are mentioned in the same breath for very good reason as Under The Skin feels, somewhat, like the love child of Natasha Henstridge and David Bowie. Scarlett Johansson's unnamed extra-terrestrial has the same man-devouring intentions as Henstridge while director Jonathan Blazer has an uncanny knack for Roeg's ethereal qualities. It could also be pointed out that Bertrand Tavernier's Death Watch in 1980 could have had an influence in utilising the grim and gloomy Glasgow locations for a sombre, science fiction mood piece.
It's has a hugely experimental approach to filmmaking but one that's entirely fitting to the films themes of isolation and understanding. Many Glasgow residents were filmed in secret (signing a disclaimer afterwords to be included in the final cut) and it's this secret filming that adds an authenticity to their behaviour and allows us to see ourselves through the eyes of another entity. In this case, it's almost a stroke of genius to have the often indecipherable Glaswegians as the focus of this alien being's intentions. Many don't understand the Glaswegian dialect or idiom and even though I completely understood what they were saying, I can only assume that many viewers wouldn't quite grasp it the same way. Maybe I'm wrong but I often get the impression that the colloquialisms of the city do seem alien to people. I could even sense that Johansson herself didn't know what they were saying at times but this only added the distance between her and the supporting characters. No one does anything of particular note but it's their mundane existence that Johansson's character finds interesting and it adds a rather captivating edge when seen through her eyes. Few, if any, science fiction films have managed to capture this concept or observation so well and it's this that lends the film a true originality that bypasses the B-movie shlock of Species and comfortably finds it's path on Roeg-ish territory.
That being said, Under the Skin can, at times, be a tough watch and will certainly not appeal to those that who prefer to be spoonfed their science fiction. There's a leisurely pace and the foreboding music score by Mica Levi and brilliantly bleak cinematography by Daniel Landin only add to the overall sense of dread and depression. The entire point of it all in creating and conveying a distance is also the very approach that could leave many a viewer struggling to find any enjoyment. It's also a role for Johansson that will 'alienate' many of her fans but those who are patient and appreciate art-house cinema will be richly rewarded.
Much like the lure Johansson has over her male counterparts, the film itself lures you into a meditative frame of mind and refuses to let go. Some may see it as pretentious but whether or not you grasp itâ??s existential ponderingâ??s, thereâ??s still no denying itâ??s mesmerising mood. Bold filmmaking and quite unlike anything else from 2014.
Very challenging role for Scarlett Johansson as she doesn't speak a lot and for most of the movie she does have to be poker faced. Hers is not the most likeable character, but as she evolved I did care what happened to her.
Not a movie to spell anything out, a lot is open to your own interpretation.
I didn't realise it was based on a book and I am quite interested to read it.
I was fascinated from the opening frame. Yes, it's a weird movie. But it's one of those weird movies I will revisit over the years. And yet, I can't recommend this film to everyone. Even for the most open minded of audiences, the film can be off putting. I just don't consider that a bad thing.
Scarlett Johansson solidly continues her climb to Hollywood's upper reaches by taking on this indie introspection on the complicit danger when staying anywhere foreign too long.
When I read Michel Faber's book, it haunted me for weeks. In this film they have stripped away much of the plot, leaving only the bare essentials. You could say that the same applies to the dialogue and the score as well, the latter of which is masterfully sparse and eerie.
The fact that most of the men are non-actors and the conversations unscripted adds a startling sense of realism to the film, the likes of which I have never seen in a sci-fi or horror film before. The surreality is still always there, gnawing at the back of your head.
I cannot believe there are people out there who complain that "nothing happens" whenever Isserley - or Laura, as she is apparently called in this film - lures her victims to their demise, because for me, those were the most intense moments in the entire film.
art house b-movie?
someone said something about this being the ultimate film about loneliness?
BUT ABOVE ALL
it was a discombobulating sensual experience like few others