Under the Skin – movie
Jonathan Glazer’s 2014 film Under the Skin is an arty and edgy adaptation of the novel of the same name by Michel Faber. Glazer intentionally “stripped back” the story to concentrate on the predatory side of the novel’s main character.
Scarlett Johannson is the alien Isserley who lures well-built men into her van with her sexual charms and then drugs them. They are then taken to an isolated farmhouse for unknown reasons where we see them floating in a dark void until their skin is literally stripped off them.
Director Glazer has tried to create a sense of the dislocation and strangeness Isserley would find in our world, but a soundtrack interspersed with ‘alien’ radio communications and many long scenes of just driving make for tedious viewing.
The theme of the novel this was based on is intriguing, but it is stripped back until there are only moods of eeriness and some tension. Without a solid background it becomes just an exercise in visual effects.
Johansson’s raw performance – often actually in the raw herself – is the highlight of the movie. She is transformed into a sexual predator who lures unsuspecting prey into her van. Glazier had her cruise the streets of Glasgow with a film crew luring actual passers-by into the van. Some of the men were recruited for later scenes, but most of the initial conversations are authentic. While clever, such indulgent documentary-style realism doesn’t advance the virtually non-existent plot in any meaningful way.
While the novel is a thought provoking modern fable on any number of issues — animal cruelty and human brutality in battery-produced food, for example – the film adaptation is confusing and tries a little too hard and the plot is never revealed or explained.
The film, described in its blurb as “An intoxicating marvel, strange and sublime” is certainly atmospheric and mesmerising. Unfortunately Glazer has been too clever and not clever enough – in stripping back the plot he totally lost the plot, leaving the viewer totally bewildered.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/under-the-skin-review-scarlett-johansson-sizzles-20140522-zrhu1.html#ixzz3TV0fcM1P