Under the Skin
Blu-ray + Digital
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From visionary director Jonathan Glazer (SEXY BEAST, BIRTH) comes a stunning career transformation, a masterpiece of existential science fiction that journeys to the heart of what it means to be human, extraterrestrial -- or something in between. A voluptuous woman of unknown origin (Scarlett Johansson) combs the highways in search of isolated or forsaken men, luring a succession of lost souls into an otherworldly lair. They are seduced, stripped of their humanity, and never heard from again. Based on the novel by Michel Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White), UNDER THE SKIN examines human experience from the perspective of an unforgettable heroine who grows too comfortable in her borrowed skin, until she is abducted into humanity with devastating results.
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Scarlett Johansson's alien character, driving around Scotland in a van, is on a metaphorical birth-life-death journey as well. With each encounter, each stop, she acquires a human trait of increasing complexity, from shallow chit-chat and filling survival needs through group behavior, humor, pity, mercy, love, and fear.
Along the way she is shadowed by her patriarchal alien overseer who seeks to set boundaries on her development. The point at which he intervenes is telling, and the alien "She" ditches her van and overseer to learn more. In the process she shows more humanity than many of us can muster.
"Under the Skin" is beautifully crafted but difficult to watch. The opening "birth" sequence and scenes around Scotland are gorgeous, but there are several heart-rending scenes, and the demise of some characters is visually arresting. Those watching for prurient reasons or who are unwilling to put some thought into it will be disappointed. The pace is Kubrickian and, like "2001: A Space Odyssey", what little dialog there is is largely meaningless in terms of plot.
In the end, this movie challenges us to think about what is under our skin. Inside ourselves we will find predator and lover, vulnerability and callousness, patriarch and feminist, victor and victim. But in what proportions?
1. If you are looking for something fun and amusing to watch while munching on popcorn one evening with your family or friends, this may not be for you. The film is not for everyone, especially because of the content. The rating should tell you all you need to know, but be aware that there is no censorship here. Nudity - though quite tasteful and not vulgar - is definitely present. I can't exactly lump it together with drama/mystery and it didn't feel very much like horror either. It's one of those films that urges you to stay focused. Look away for a moment and you might get lost.
2. If you are searching for something on the non mainstream side, this may be it. When I say that, I mean that this entertains in its own unique way. The audience isn't spoon-fed. I'm not a movie buff by any means, so I can't make any fancy comparisons with classics or whatnot, but this piece definitely broke my personal record for "strangest movie I've seen in the past five years". Feeling thoughtful? Pondering the meaning of life? You might need to put on your thinking cap for this one.
The film does something I found wondrous and fascinating - it forced me to start theory-crafting right off the bat and pushed my imagination into overdrive. I was confused; I was baffled; I wanted - no, NEEDED - to know what the heck was going on, and though this "unknowing" frustrated me at first, I soon realized that I was watching something incredible.
Scarlett did an incredible job with this role. Some might say it wasn't very challenging because she spent a lot of time as an "expressionless" character. However, I disagree. She was "vacant" but not expressionless, and the way in which she brought the character to life piece by piece as she became more and more human really blew me away. The acting felt natural. All of the actors were splendid.
This film can definitely fall into the sci-fi category, but I did feel that it was very much about humanity and what it meant to truly be human (rather than aliens or spaceships and such). Empathy is key when relating a story, whether it's on screen like this or in print. From the very first moments that I watched the protagonist putting on clothes, driving around, and searching for lonely lost souls, I somehow empathized with her. She was supposed to be a villain (at least at first), yet I never saw her that way, and at the end, I was so frantic with the need to see her find her own "humanity" that I was biting my lip and digging my nails into my armchair.
I believe that that is what made this movie so incredible for me. It made me sit back and think about our world and how we don't appreciate the small things that make us "people". Eating, sharing stories and laughter, finding love and passion - these are things we often take for granted. On a personal level, this film moved me greatly. It's definitely one that I'm adding to my collection.
The ending scene was incredibly intense. Even as the logger was attacking her and I thought "he can't really rape her anyway", the horror was still present because the "rape" wasn't so much sexual as it was psychological. It was the shattering of hope, the kind of feelings and emotions that are gut-wrenching and terrifying. To struggle so much, to yearn for so much, and to finally find undeniable proof that the one thing we might want more than anything is unattainable...that is the true horror. Not the aliens, the devouring blackness, or death, but the theft and loss of our dreams.
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however THIS MOVIE is so bad that I must warn others how disappointing and pointless this film really is..Read more