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Archive for the ‘Under The Skin’ Category

Under the Skin

Under the Skin poster.pngIf you watch Under the Skin as a film for pure enjoyment you’ll probably be pretty disappointed and lost.  If you see the film for what it is as a work of art, it excels in every way possible.  It is the most atmospheric and visually stunning film I’ve seen this year next to perhaps Interstellar.  But where Interstellar had to be concerned with having large scale appeal to recoup it’s massive budget, Under the Skin was focused on being a clearly defined work of art.

Scarlett Johansson plays an un-named alien being who is sent to earth to feed a gelatinous pool of black goo, with the lives of single men.  She drives around the city of Glasgow finding these men by seducing them and leading them back to her home (real high-brow I know). As an alien being this is the one task she is focused on.  We’re not sure what the black pool is.  It could be her master, or perhaps or portal that feeds her home world, or a million other things.  It’s not important.  What is important is that we know she is operating clearly defined tasks, from a viewpoint outside our realm of being.

Things happen around her while she is focused on her next victim that a normal person would be appalled at, but she’s not human.  She doesn’t feel the way humans do, and this is when the movie and Scarlett begin to change.  She starts to become a product of her environment, questioning the robotic motives that have defined her course.  The entire course of the film we see her as such a monster, but is she truly a monster if she’s just acting on instinct and has no knowledge of our culture or way of life?

Johansson, who I’m usually very quick to bash, is excellent here.  This is the kind of role, along with another role earlier this year in Lucy, that she’s made for.  Two very robotic, unmoving, unfeeling roles, but she’s able to make the character more feeling and human in the end.  Director Jonathan Glazer does a fantastic job of clearly defining this story and telling it through very simple, well thought out scenes, that again visually are just stunning.  These are the types of films that I love.  Simple storytelling that let us as viewers define meaning from.

Under the Skin will not appeal to everyone, in fact at first it didn’t really appeal to me, but Glazer and Johansson do so well at playing out this story to it’s climax that it makes a strong case for being one of the best films of the year.  This is not your typical alien from outer space movie, but it might possibly be one of the more realistic ones out there.

Grade: A-