Posts Tagged Jonathan Glazer

Under the Skin (2013)

undertheskin

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Certificate: 15 Runtime: 1h48m

I am a long time fan of Scarlet Johansson which is one reason I decided to watch Under The Skin. She plays the lead character in it and it’s not long into the film that you find out that she is an alien. There are hints of a spacecraft and alien technology but the film explains little. You just have to guess and use your imagination as to how it all works. Scarlett’s character, which as far as I know, has no name, is working as a sexual lure, presumably for a specific purpose. It was very interesting to try to figure it all out from what the film gives you (which is not enough in my opinion!). Some people think they understand it deeply and they speak of its ‘symbols’ and that’s great. I would have liked more insight into the alien technology among other things. There are scenes where Scarlett’s character talks to men through the window of a van and this is so realistic that I felt at times as if the men she was talking to were not acting and were genuine victims. It turns out that some of the men actually were being secretly filmed and were not actors. They were told after.

What I find most fantastic about that is one gets to see how Scarlett Johansson would talk to a man in an alluring way in real life. It was very subtle but I think she was a super lure. This didn’t make much sense because the alien she plays doesn’t have a back story that explains how she would have gained the social skills needed to talk to people in the warm, relaxed, and seductive way that she does. This is inconsistent as there are other scenes that clearly show that the alien doesn’t understand human life to much of a degree. The most impressive thing about the film is the atmosphere it created due to the truly alien technology you do get to see. There is a special floor that while Scarlett’s character walks on it, remains hard but as the men walk on it they slowly become submerged in it as it turns into a thick liquid. You get to see specifically what happens to them in the end as a result of that and it’s quite disturbing. It helped me to imagine why being abducted by aliens might be so terrible as something like what happens in Under The Skin could be what would come of that. Those who imagine being abducted by aliens talk about being put on an operating table under some bright lights and experimented on – a modified version of what it’s like to go to the dentist! Under The Skin provides your imagination with a much more alien vision of what could happen.

Reviewed by Alistair Martin

This is our second review of Under the Skin! You can find the first one by Pat Harrington here.

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Under the Skin (2013)

Certificate: 15 Runtime: 1h48m

Click on image to buy the DVD!

Click on image to buy the DVD!

Under the Skin, Jonathan Glazer’s blend of sci-fi and horror, has been described as both ‘erotic’ and ‘disturbing’. It is an adaption of Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same name. undertheskinvan
Scarlett Jhohannson is an extraterrestrial cruising Glasgow in a white van to pick up men. She always asks questions like ‘are you alone?’ and ‘Do you live alone?’. Clue: the smart answer is ‘No’.
In between picking up men she ( credited as “Laura”, a name never mentioned in the film!) drives around Glasgow where the ordinary folk are observed and weighed up. These scenes of Glasgow have a fascination of their own as ordinary people going about their daily lives are closely observed.
Although there is flesh on show I didn’t find it erotic although I did find it disturbing. There is a beach drowning scene where her alien, disconnected and unsympathetic nature is underscored. It is harrowing.
Johansson’s alien is gradually drawn into the world of humanity and loses control. This is triggered by meeting a man with neurofibromatosis. She seems depressed and becomes withdrawn and vulnerable. In this state she sees both the best and worst of human nature.
Under the Skin is an unusual, visually beautiful film but expect to leave with more questions than answers.

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

There is a second Counter Culture review of Under the Skin by Alistair Martin here.

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