Under The Skin (2014)

Directed by Jonathan Glazer (“Sexy Beast”) and starring Scarlett Johansson, “Under The Skin” is probably the best film of 2014 and one of the most notable film experiences this author has ever seen.  The movie, which is adapted from a novel by Michel Faber, concerns itself with an alien (Johansson) who comes to Glasgow, Scotland and interacts with human men.  While this story may seem simplistic, “Under The Skin” is anything but a typical movie going experience.  Instead, it is a an amazing film that immerses its audience into a total film experience.

One of the interesting things about the movie is that there is a minimalist style.  Its an interesting choice considering most sci-fi films made today seem to thrive of exposition and over analyzing certain tenets of sci-fi (such as different worlds, gadgets, etc).  Instead, Glazer opts for a minimalist approach: the audience does not why the alien is on planet earth or why she is capturing human men.  This approach is great and interesting choice by Glazer: Instead of spoon feeding information like some sci-fi films do, the audience is required to use its thoughts and imagine and actually engage with the film.  I found this approach to be incredibly refreshing and great, which furthers my appreciation for the film even more.

I have mentioned to numerous colleagues that I have never really been a big fan of Scarlett Johansson.  I thought she has always been a pretty face but never wowed me as an actress.  In “Under The Skin” however, Johansson is nothing short of amazing. The way she observes her body as though she is an alien and the way she interacts with other men is incredible.  Its even more incredible considering she has very few lines of dialogue and has to interact with the world around her.

It is obvious that Glazer is influenced by “2001: A Space Odyssey” with his use of minimalism and silence.  But another influence that hearkens back to “2001” is Mica Levi’s music score.  Utilizing a series of strings and synthesizers, the music sets the mood of the movie by taking the audience to Johansson’s thoughts as an alien as well as creating an outsider effect.  Just hear it below:

While it is true that “Under The Skin” can be seen as “arty”, do not let that be a deterrent to seek out this interesting film going experience.

Four stars out of Four.


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