Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Paul Brannigan
Directed by: Jonathan Glazer
Written by: Jonathan Glazer, Walter Campbell
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 48 min
Scarlett Johansson plays an alien roaming the streets around Scotland’s cities and towns in search of lonely men to bring back to her lair. Once there, they are never seen or heard from again, and what happens to them is certainly unique, and definitely not what these guys were hoping for!
Pretty early on into this film, I could tell this was going to be a mostly visual journey, and its central message would be delivered very slowly. Which I was okay with because as visuals go, this film is fascinating and beautiful to watch.
The motivations and mission of the lead character are never clearly described, but that ultimately wasn’t important. Under the skin, in my limited determination, seems to explore humanity from an inhuman perspective. The story is told from the aliens point of view, as she observes human behavior and then becomes corrupted by it.
Playing a human being ultimately means experiencing human emotions, which causes confusion and seems to be a recurring failing with this race of creatures if I’m understanding this film correctly. Under the Skin is slow, and isn’t going to spell out everything for you. It certainly allows you room to interpret this material in any way you see fit, and the payoff at the end of the film is certainly worth the wait.
This isn’t an easy film to process, and if you’re the kind of movie watcher that prefers a more structured narrative, then this film isn’t for you. The movie earns its R rating due to its sexual content and nudity.
The rainy streets of Glasgow, and the stunning Scottish countryside would ideally be best served on a big screen. At home a HD viewing on a large TV is the way to go. Watching this on a laptop, tablet or phone will reduce the films impact.
There are a lot of great visuals in this film, but there was one that really stood out for me. During a moment where we observe people moving around the city at night. The shots of these people start to layer. First two layers, then three, and on and on, blending together, and it reminded me of the futurist paintings I’d seen from Marcel Duchamp that attempted to expressed movement. The shot gets brighter, and gradually dissolves to Scarlett Johansson’s face.