UNDER THE SKIN (2011)

APRIL 18, 2014

A very unusual but hypnotic film, UNDER THE SKIN harkens back to 1970’s cinema and is especially reminiscent of Nicholas Roeg’s THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976). 


The plot couldn’t be any more simplistic, an alien disguised as a human (Scarlett Johansson) travels around Scotland looking for men to lure back to her home to feed on them…I think? 


Not much is explained in UNDER THE SKIN, but that is the point. It’s meant to be an experience. Film as art. The viewer provides their own interpretations of events and those theories are meant to be discussed or puzzled over, hopefully for years to come. A movie like this is supposed to haunt you, so there is no reason to feel cheated from the experience even if you walked away scratching your head a bit. 


Directed by Jonathan Glazer, the film is a far cry from both SEXY BEAST (2001), which I love, and BIRTH (2004), which I was intrigued by. His voice is almost indefinable as each of his films are so different stylistically. To me that’s what makes him exciting, as you never know what you’re going to get, but at the end of the day it’s going to be worth your time. 


The movie is not going to be for everyone. It is slow and repetitive and could be considered tedious if you don’t submit to it. There’s also a lot of male and female full frontal nudity. It’s done in a very artful and non-exploitive way and Scarlett Johansson is quite nude in many scenes. I would assume this might be a plus (and a draw) for many viewers, so it’s worth mentioning. 


Movies like UNDER THE SKIN have merit and take you to different places than most mainstream fair. If I can offer an analogy; Sometimes I feel like listening to orchestral film score music and other times I want my power metal. UNDER THE SKIN is like a Philip Glass score. If you want Iron Maiden, go see CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER. 


Did I mention all the nudity?