Under The Skin
Cert: 15 Year: 2013 Length: 108 mins
Cinema Handout (PDF 70KB)
Score: 45.83% Attendance: 117
Films that are released in spring tend to be missed by us as they don't fit our seasons; 2014 saw two films come out that we felt we should squeeze in and 'Under the Skin' is the first of these. Director Jonathan Glazer has spent 10 years and 3 writers developing it from the Michael Faber 2000 novel of the same name. His previous work includes the crime drama 'Sexy Beast' and the mystery 'Birth', both rife with stars. He also directed several adverts including the iconic and beautiful Guinness horses-from-the-waves and the Sony exploding-paint, so he is a man who doesn't fit into a particular genre, but likes to do a great job of anything he touches.
'Under the Skin' continues this trend; difficult to define, with no two critics seeming to agree about its genre even. On the surface it is about an unnamed woman (Scarlett Johansson) travelling the streets of Glasgow, but she appears to be hunting someone specific as she rejects many of those she finds. Is it an example of 'realist' cinema? This strand is emphasized by using not only non-professional actors, but some unprepared passers-by; Johansson actually picked up random people and hidden cameras were used to film their conversations. (So, it could even be a documentary on how ordinary people deal with meeting a celebrity!)
But is she just a stranger as she seems? Is this really a SciFi movie based on an alien from elsewhere? Her posh English accent certainly makes sure the locals in Glasgow know she is from elsewhere. Or maybe it could even be a horror movie, mainly left off-camera, but…
The film is beautiful, using both the Scottish scenery and CGI to best effect, with a score used to enhance the otherworldly feel.
This frightening, unearthly film is the most striking achievement yet by (this) director. 'Under the Skin' is not only genuinely experimental but feels authentically alien...almost something that a documentarist from another world might have shot here on a field mission
Jonathan Romney, Film Comment
This is, very simply and straightforwardly, a masterpiece Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
The result is an amazement, a film of beauty and shocking gravity Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
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