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FILM: Under The Skin

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#1 Stefancos


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Posted 16 September 2014 - 11:09 AM

Under The Skin


Enigmatic is probably the word best suiting much of this film, the other is alien.


This sci-fi films opens with shots clearly homemaking CE3k (the light), Blade Runner (the eye) and 2001: ASO (the first shot of the motorcyclist in high speed looks like Dave Bowman going on his transcendental voyage).

After that is really becomes it's own thing.


Toi describe it's plot is to basically describe what happens on the screen. There isnt a traditional plot. Scenes happen, often for a reason, but at no point is it clear what will happen next.


Scarlett Johansson literally stars in this movie. She once started in indie cinema to become a big movie star, but is able to toss all of that away and pretty much returns to where she started, though more bizarre.

She plays her character (nameless, like every character in the film) as a complete empty vessel. An alien of some sort seemingly programmed to lure Scottish men into her den, where they are processed in a large liquid substance and eventually removed from their skin. For reasons never quite made plain.


Johanssen's enigmatic smile and her voice are used by her character, but only when she is on her mission. For the rest her facial expressions are either completely blank, a subtle curious bemusement, discomfort and a bit later mild enjoyment and panic.

At first a effective predator she begins to falter in his task as she is overwhelmed by the sensory output she is receiving on this planet. Without even a hint of exposition the film is able to tell a lot about her character. Her home planet must be completely different. without the variety of colors, objects, and especially sounds. After a while it begins to overwhelm her and flees, for reasons probably not clear for herself either.


Jonanssen strips herself from any glamor she has as an actress,and become essentially someone acting out of an unknown impulse, going through the world with a very limited vocabulary, or frame of reference (the only engaging dialogue scenes she has are the pick-ups. In other scenes she is barely able to express anything, as if it wasnt part of her programming).

It's a brave performance, because it gives the viewer so little to latch on to.


Jonathan Glazer's direction purposely tries to avoid the viewer getting too close. It has a distinct 70's feel in how it was shot. Long, lingering shots from an extreme distance which would have made Kubrick proud are alternated with the convined conditions of the truck Johansson drives.


Music is used sparingly and very effectively. Lots of unearthly  atonal string stracting. an almost ritualistic theme with strings and a drum to signify the scenes where Johanssen lures men to their demise. (repeated in an almost ironic fashion later in the film)


This is a very puzzling film. If you think 2001: ASO was frustrating then stay away, because that film is a picture of clarity compared to this one.


Yes, it's very involving, for the right audience, the person who doesn't always need to be led by the director, writer or even the actor. I loved how the film was able to make things clear, or suggest things to me simply be showing whats going on, rather then telling me. And even though I'm sure my conclusions about it may be completely different to what might have been intended...but maybe thats the point.


Yes Johanssen has a few nude scenes here, particularly one where she examines herself in the mirror. It shows that she is indeed a gorgeous woman, yet there is something "normal" about here.


This is the sort of film many many will hate, because they think it's about nothing, and nothing happens.

That might actually be so. yet there is something irresistible about it.




#2 Thor


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Posted 16 September 2014 - 11:23 AM

I saw it two days ago. Love it!

#3 Richard



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Posted 16 September 2014 - 11:29 AM

It's a fantastic, and a very human, film. One of my top-3 best, films, this year, so far.

#4 crocodile


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Posted 16 September 2014 - 01:57 PM

It will be up there, high. Certainly.



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"Modern, serious music has become embroiled in an intellectual discussion that has no place in music. Certainly, the great composer of the past were geniuses and used their intellect, but only to serve their emotions and guide their craft. Not to dictate to them what they should or shouldn't write" - Michael Kamen, 1995

#5 Jim Ware

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Posted Yesterday, 09:06 PM

I can recommend the book on which the film is based.  Creepy and disturbing stuff.  

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