Under The Skin

Jonathan Glazer’s third directorial  feature is setting to be more controversal and divisive than his last offering Birth. But will I be able to stand to watch the whole film?

The plot-what there is of it-follows Scarlett Johansson as an alien in Glasgow who stalks men in a white van, assesses if they are what she is looking for, than lures these unsuspecting men to their fate.

I can see why this film has caused so many divided opinions since it’s release, some thinking its a masterpiece others that it’s an incomprehensible nonsense. I can see both sides of the argument and at times the film displays both these qualities. Some scenes are creepy, hypnotic and full of startling imagery and sound. Other times it’s not artistic-just boring.

First half of the film is enthralling even though there is not much in a sense of plot. The second half of the film, after Johansson leaves her van in the road and goes off into the fog is where the film starts to drag. At times it feels like a short film that has been stretched out too long.

Johansson gives a confident performance as the alien with an unclear mission-to us at least. She has to strip not only her clothes but her celebrity status, she wonders around the town of Glasgow incognito and wonders aimlessly around confused by the reactions of those around her. Her alien can be charming and friendly to those she meets but as soon as they do not meet her requirements her steely glare returns and reverts to her dispassionate expressions.

Some will love going over this film and coming up with theories about what is going on (I have my own but I’ve no idea if they are anywhere close to what the director had in mind). Others will find it incomprehensible rubbish.

Sometimes it does feel as though the film is being too mysterious for its own good and perhaps a little more transparency (or plot) would have been good. But then it might have ruined what the director has achieved.

Some scenes and images will stay in the mind, the hypnotic opening, the fate of the men who enter the house, a trip to the beach. What stood out to me most was the score by Mica Levi, how it would build up as Johansson stalks her prey and brings them back to her lair. It’s as ominous and unsettling as the film itself.

Overall this is a film I’m glad I experienced although I can’t say it’s one I will necessarily want to watch again, although if I was interesting in studying or directing films then I imagine it would be an interesting one to deconstruct the film at length to see if it’s secrets can be revealed underneath its egnomatic skin.

Rating 3/5 – it won’t appeal to everyone but you’ll definitely have an opinion on it

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Under The Skin

  1. Good review! I am yet to see this despite my want, I was very impressed and intrigued by the trailer which somewhat gimmicked the shining for me, hopefully I can get round to it soon!

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