Under the Skin is the third and latest film from director, Jonathan Glazer. It’s based on a book of the same name by Michel Faber. The only synopsis you need is that Scarlett Johansson is an alien seductress who drives around Scotland in her van searching for men. For my review, I will NOT be providing spoilers because I haven’t felt this strongly about a movie in a long time. Spoiling this movie would take away from the experience that is Under the Skin.
I was going to write this review last night, but to be honest, my brain was still swirling around in bits and pieces trying to figure out/take in all that I saw. All I could think of when I left the theatre was that Jonathan Glazer made a masterpiece. Truly, a spectacular piece of art that will be analyzed and viewed for years to come.
I’ve never had quite an experience like this at a cinema before. Everything about this movie was so on point and structured in a way where you couldn’t take your eyes off the screen. The sound design, the cinematography, the score, the directing, the acting, everything about this movie was spectacular. While, yes, the average movie goer probably wouldn’t
appreciate this movie for all it is and just write it off as an “artsy” film, I didn’t see it that way. I saw it as something marvelous. A treat for the eyes and ears. I really want to touch base on each and every aspect of this film, so first off:
The cinematography and directing were absolutely breathtaking. Each camera angle was a sight to behold. With really close up shots, to really wide shots, it made this movie stand out. Particularly, I really loved how they placed the cameras in the van. (If you didn’t know, most of the men she picks up in the film aren’t actors. Scarlett rode around Scotland with hidden cameras in the van, the film crew in the back, and just tried to pick up men. But do remember the men that DO go back to her house, ARE actors.) I really had a hard time distinguishing between actor/actual person. Keeping those camera angles in the same way really plays with your mind and adds realness to this movie. Jonathan Glazer did a tremendous job. Also, the lighting in this movie is stunning. Scene to scene, it stood out. It was all strategically placed to make you notice it. It was a character on it’s own.
The sound design was fantastic! I’ve never been so transfixed by someone putting on heels before. Whether it was Scarlett putting on clothes, turning on her turn signal, or just the keys dangling in the van, it grabbed your attention and made you notice the little things. It also added to the real life aspect of the film.
The score is probably one of my all time favorite scores. It’s haunting and mesmerizing. I’ve been listening to it ever since it was released, so I was pretty excited to see which song goes where in the film. Some songs I thought were haunting and would be in a different type of scene, but while it was still haunting, it played into a way different scene and worked really well. Mica Levi has created a score like no other and I can’t get enough.
The acting was top notch! While Scarlett’s character barely has any lines, all she really has is her facial expressions. She did such a great job and this is easily one of my most favorite roles she’s ever done. You could tell she put her all into this role and it really payed off. This is such a different role for her and I’m really glad she took it. While Scarlett really is the main star, I thought the motorcyclist, whose name I’m having a hard time finding, did an excellent job as well. He had very few parts, but the parts he did have, he had to sell it and he did.
The story is what most critics complain about. I thought it was such a touching story and really showed what it means to be human. As the story progress’, you start to feel the emotions of Scarlett’s character up until the very end. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll stop there.
As Scarlett as said in an interview, Under the Skin doesn’t really fit into any genre. It’s an experience. I give this film 5/5 stars. This is a movie that will stick in your head and you’ll be unable to think of anything else. If you are able to see Under the Skin, I highly recommend it. You’ll be proud to say you saw in the cinemas. Be warned, in the U.S., Under the Skin is Rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language. There is extensive nudity throughout the movie, a brief scene of sexual content that stops before it’s even begun, the violence is mainly what you perceive, and the language is only a few words here and there, but due to the thick Scottish accents, you might not even catch them.