Sunday, April 27, 2014

Under the Skin

***1/2 out of ****

Under the Skin is a return to thought-provoking art-house science fiction that is so bold, it will make a small amount of people fall under its dark spell while most people will just want to get up and leave. Here is a film with unforgettable sound and imagery, yet almost no story exposition. It baffles you with terrifying thoughts and upsetting scenarios which, to be corny, got under my skin. I’m not sure what the function of these happenings was supposed to be but I don’t think the movie is interested in explaining anything. After seeing the big budget sci-fi, Transcendence, which made the fatal mistake of trying to explain too much, this film's refusal to justify its dark weirdness felt refreshing. The movie is as alienating as it is about an alien.

Under the Skin follows Scarlett Johansson as an alien, taking the form of a human as it drives around Scotland in a van seducing men. She mostly stares and rarely speaks but her presence is hypnotizing.

The film’s director, Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast and Birth) has crafted something perfectly mysterious, in the tradition of Kubrick or Tarkovsky, which deserves the kind of conversation a nightmarish painting could inspire. What it may be saying about gender, sexuality or just plain human identity is worth too much time and thought to play a role in this review.

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