Under the Skin

In this delicious little existential sci-fi, Scarlett Johansson is an alluring creature who preys on unsuspecting males. After making an attempt on a kindly, deformed bystander, our protagonist is compelled to take a journey of self-discovery, despite unsavory consequences. I suppose I should warn you with a spoilers sticker, but considering the visual heaviness of the feature, I really don’t feel as if you’ll be missing out on much by spoiling the story.

There's going to be a lot of this.

There’s going to be a lot of this.

Essentially we’re dealing with a film that is pretty much completely visual, only occasionally complimented by non-diegetic sound and a sprinkle of dialogue (when it helps). We’re given scenes that are beautifully shot and composed, ultimately providing a tantalizing, often haunting experience, stringing together themes of  loneliness and longing – predator and prey.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a5116a1913970c-800wiPersonally, I enjoyed the clear disconnect between viewer and protagonist, after all, she is an alien. But when she attempts to discover herself as a person, that’s where I got kind of pulled out of the story. There’s a certain charm and awkwardness involved…mostly awkwardness – but isn’t that what being human is all about?

Well, in unnamed protagonist’s case, it’s actually a step back, which was kind of surprising. (Her awkward discoveries keep her from being a person, that is.) More so, it seemed as if some of the transformational bits were fairly forced, making her story become clunkier as it went on.

Or maybe I just wanted more scenes of skin being sucked off of peoples’ bodies. Hard to say.

This film is definitely something to experience, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was hindered by the need for a paradigm shift. The protagonist’s desire for identity leaves the audience drifting off with her…maybe I’m just jaded but it eventually felt incredibly try-hard, but the finale left time for pondering and reflection. On the whole, I dug it, but I could definitely see many-a-disappointed film-goer.

Final Grade: B

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About reelgirl

Film lover, kitsch enthusiast, and all around neat gal. You can read what I'm up to at Reel Girl Reviews!

Posted on July 19, 2014, in Review and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I saw this at Rev and boy, nothing ends a post-film conversation quicker than ‘Finally! I’ve seen Scarlett naked!’ But you were probably saying ‘Finally! Some dick onscreen!’ so let’s call it even.
    Right now I’m about one-third through the book by Michel Faber. The movie makers were smart to not follow the book too closely; it bogs down in over-explanation. There is some useful detail about what happens to the men she captures (in the book her name is Isserley) but overall the film is better served by the stripped down script.
    As for the movie itself – the first half worked very well. The second half was strained.
    I’m curious to know whether the last of her victims was, you know, genuine. Or enhanced. I’ve been looking online but I can’t find the answer.

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