If you’re like me, you’ll spend the first few minutes of Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin thinking, “What the hell am I watching?” You’ll then find yourself saying it to yourself again and again throughout the movie. I’ll be the first to say that I’m not one for art films. If your film has excruciatingly long shots of shapes and sizes moving, it’s probably not the best movie for me.
Going in all I knew about Under The Skin was the Scarlett Johansson is an alien who seduces men in Scotland. Watching Scarlett Johansson seduce men in one of my favorite places in the world didn’t seem to me too bad of a way to spend a rainy afternoon. Unfortunately, the one thing I didn’t know is that it was an art film.
Under The Skin has no dialog for the first thirteen minutes of the film. And when it does have dialog, it’s largely filler. If you’re looking for a movie that’s going to explain everything, this isn’t it. We watch as Scarlett’s character (who is never given a name) trolls through the city looking for likely male victims. There’s an uneasy parallel there where it seems these men are little more than targets and Scarlett’s playing the role of the serial killer with the typical genders reversed. For me, this was the most interesting part of the whole movie.
Scarlett is seductive throughout the movie, but there are scarcely any love scenes. Instead we’re treated to some strange metaphorical world where everyone gets naked and Scarlett is always just out reach while the men invariably sink into obscurity. I’m sure there’s probably some meaning to come out of all of that, but I must confess I haven’t a clue what it is.
Everyone involved in this movie has done work, I’ve enjoyed before. Scarlett Johansson rarely misses the mark. Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast is one of my favorites. Unfortunately Under The Skin is so vague and open to interpretation that the wonderful Scottish scenery and the lovely (and occasionally naked) Scarlett Johansson just isn’t enough.
Under The Skin almost hints at an actual plot from time to time, but it never gives the characters any chance to help it along. I’m certain that for some people, this movie is amazing. They might say I didn’t ‘get it’ and they’re probably right. Like I said, I’m not big on art films and this was most certainly that.
– Jack Cameron
Under The Skin is currently available on Netflix of you can purchase Under The Skin at this link.
Tomorrow’s Review: Grabbers