Under the Skin

Under the Skin - Official UK Poster
Under the Skin
Directed by Jonathan Glazer
Starring Scarlett Johansson
In UK Cinemas March 14th, 2014

by Joanna Orland

A beautiful ambient thriller that has elements of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Tree of Life, AI and The Man Who Fell To EarthUnder the Skin epitomized this year’s Venice Film Festival themes of isolation and without imitation, there is no creation.  This ambient and beautiful film found itself to be the most divisive of the festival.   One must go into it with an open mind and find meaning rather than be spoonfed.

Jonathan Glazer adapted this film from the 2000 Michael Faber novel of the same name.  It is not for the faint of heart or the closed-minded.  Very little dialogue is used in this ambient, abstract visual and aural feast.  Scarlett Johansson needs not to even say a word as her physical performance speaks louder than words ever could.  The plot is never realized as we are never informed of what Johansson’s character is, or what she is doing.  But she does it so captivatingly well.  The genre is not easily identifiable – part horror, part arthouse.

While using ethereal imagery, director Glazer decided to use real people rather than actors as the support cast to Johannson’s main alien character.  Set in Scotland, the film could not be any more gritty and grounded in reality, yet in parallel, it is overtly otherworldly. While the main character and the story all seem alien, it is in fact a story that has been told many times before.  Frankenstein and AI are prime examples of a humanoid character turned against society who actually wants nothing more than to belong.  Under the Skin is potentially the best telling of this classic story, for mature audiences only.

Leave a Reply