Film Review – Under the Skin (2013)

Under the Skin - post

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

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17 responses to “Film Review – Under the Skin (2013)

    • Hey mate. It’s well worth a watch as it does seem to divide viewers pretty evenly. It had some hugely impressive moments but not sure it comes together as a whole. A time in the cult archives beckons for this one though me thinks.
      Eddie

    • Haha mate, while short it certainly isn’t to far from the point in many respects 🙂 Sometimes I don’t mind slow paced movies but this one did have some very arduous moments.
      Eddie

  1. A very fair review I would say. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience but I’m glad I have been through it and I can not see elements of it as truly beautiful. Thanks for the review, as always xoxo

    • I think it’s an experience all film goers should see that is for sure. I think some will absolutely think it’s one of the years best but a majority may find it to hard to bare.
      Eddie

  2. Well, I appreciate your review, but I really, really disliked this movie which is why I gave it 1/2 nugget 🙂 I’ll be seeing ScarJo this weekend in “Lucy” and I’m hoping that it will make me forget “Skin.”
    Joan

  3. I probably disagree with you about this movie more than anything else you’ve reviewed. In my view, it’s the best movie so far this century. Rather like 2001, it does need to be seen more than once in order to get a full appreciation both of the style and the actual story (which you mostly have to figure out from the imagery and behaviour, rather than anything that’s actually said). In fact, there is actually a clear and coherent story, whereas that’s rather more ambiguous in 2001. It’s a poetic film rather than a prose film; in other words it’s full-on cinema in the sense of using imagery. I think the structure and pacing are rather superb, and the soundtrack is extraordinary.

  4. I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5. It’s a competent serial killer art film. Scarlett Johansson’s performce is OK, but nothing I’d get into a car and end up in a black slimy netherworld for. I’ve never been to Scotland (Glasgow?) but it looks like it’s behind the Iron Curtain. Such grey, homely, downbeat little people.

  5. Pingback: New Blogs: A Round-up of What I Am Reading Right Now | A Voluptuous Mind·

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