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Film Review - Under the Skin

Posted on the 13 July 2014 by The Page Lady
Film Review - Under the Skin

Directed by: Jonathan Glazer

Starring: Scarlett Johansson


Run Time: 108 minutes

IMDb Summary: A mysterious woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. Events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.

What does it mean to be human? 

This is arguably the most important question addressed, and left beautifully unanswered, in Jonathan Glazer's profoundly moving and deeply haunting 'Under the Skin', a film that not only acts as a refreshing subversion of the stereotypical science fiction genre, but more significantly allows the spectator to focus and empathise with that which cannot, and conventionally should not, be understood: the alien. 

One might reason that the film even brings to light the 'alien' that exists within all of us, as a monstrous undercurrent forever present in modern society. After all, whilst Scarlett Johansson's predatory femme fatale is perhaps the literal representation of an otherworldly creature, as the film progresses, we see her human faculties and emotions take charge, and we become intimately related to her own existential crisis. The streets of glasgow however, crowded with city shoppers, passing cars, night bars...images that initially seem so familiar, grow dangerously distant as we witness the world through her somewhat inexperienced eyes. 

It's a remarkable achievement from Glazer, who primarily used hidden cameras in and around Scotland in order to gain authentic reactions from passer bys. Indeed, there is an unnerving sense of realism that pervades the film and after watching, it is nearly impossible to leave the cinema and look at the world in the same way. Add to this a revelatory performance from Johansson, who is at once both terrifying and sympathetic, and you've got an instant classic on your hands. All the signs indicate that casting Johansson just shouldn't work; a hugely famous, American star that can only be considered as part of the Hollywood elite? How on earth can she fit in the role? And yet, this is perhaps her career defining performance - entirely nuanced, subtle, well crafted and completely mesmerizing. She commands every second of the film. 

All the ingredients are there and Jonathan Glazer mixes them together with such finesse and accomplished directorial flair that the images stay with you long after the credits have ended. 'Under the Skin' is not just a film, it's a work of art.
Film Review - Under the Skin

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