Under the Skin (2013)

Under the Skin (2013)
  • Time: 107 min
  • Genre: Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller
  • Director: Jonathan Glazer
  • Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Robert J. Goodwin, Krystof Hádek


A female alien comes to Scotland to replace a deceased alien. She drives a van through the roads and streets seducing lonely men to process their bodies. Soon the emotionless alien sees her human form in a mirror and she experiences the human emotions and feelings coming to a tragic discovery.


  • (Rating: 4 / 5)Scarlett Johansson is sexy, but also intelligent and took care to add a little more complexity rather than only be another Marilyn Monroe. Her career is strong, with prominent films like “Lost In Translation” and “Match Point,” the whim of recording a CD was given, has become a superheroe as a Captain America’s partner, has been the great salvation in “Her”, is bold to work in other projects such as her collaboration with Luc Besson. In all the turmoil and the rapid rise of late, “Under The Skin” would become the most divisive film of her career, with boos and praise, but radical as to her customs

    But “Under The Skin” forces the viewer cleared of misconceptions in black and white to accept it. Which have been seen as an indie film have qualified as a highbrow junk; but not all that is indie mean it focused on the intellectual part. Even in arthouse or alternative movies, can have a commercial part because the concepts are not so rigid. Thus, “Under The Skin” appeals to commercialism into indie, it is shamelessly Art-Pop in its procedure. You can read more comparisons with known films such as the boring and somewhat contradictory “2001: A Space Odyssey”, but maybe in its heart “Under The Skin” did not follow that path. What’s this then? This film continues to be a typical artistic short film that often exhibited at festivals, which are characterized by minimalism and experience or urbanity. It is essentially a short film, a chapter expanded indulgently to film format. If you need an apt comparison, “Under The Skin” would become an urban experiment like “Man With A Movie Camera”, this 1929 movie made ​​in the Soviet Union and whose purpose was to film the daily life of the country as being an entertainment. If you want a more current film comparison, is “Her” but much more “hard”

    Is that while this film aims to tell a story, is buried by a wash of sound and images. It’s high quality Art-Pop with huge contemplative images, special scenes that do not share a link with reality but performed in primary funds and precious details, sparse dialogue, FX sound without filtering or equalizers hardly harmful (eg sound of the sea or the crowd, which is realistic or strident and not succumb), erotic imagery (not sexual), CGI used promptly, special compositions for certain scenes, etc. Perhaps most remarkable is that the music from the soundtrack completely coincides with what we’re seeing, a key violin triggered and gentle percussion when a scene is about intrigue, while maintaining a preponderance of electronic instruments to recreate the alien feel. This does not mean that it is an anti-natural art movie, but as mentioned “Under The Skin” is an urban experiment: at the mall, in the car, on the street: the viewer is there. On the other hand, is Scarlett Johansson which tends to achieve the crossover, where her performance gets the existential status or alien spirits: it is enough that Johansson does not behave like a normal human being for the public already know that “Under The skin “is a weird human experience. Even some dialogues have this tendency to abnormality, such as the conversation between Johansson and a man with his face deformity, which is devoid of discrimination or attempted habitual prudence of a human being. Fortunately, the few dialogues are very good, unlike the mediocrity of Harmony Korine with his films

    Unfortunately, “Under The Skin” is supported only by the surface, which is fortunately different from what one can see in cinema, but still is not as unknown in art in general. In terms of plat, this film is more contradictory. Some accuse it of having no argument, but in reality what happens is two things: first there are not power of synthesis (the entire first hour is devoted to the capture of three men), and the second is the changing attitude about Johansson personality, which is abrupt (from predatory becomes in seconds a wet duck for the second hour) and does not help the poor development of the mysterious motorcycle man (who could be an alien too, which has not been defeated by love and emotions, and exercises strict control over the protagonist in that sense). “Under The Skin” hypnotizes, but hypnosis is not always a virtue but can also be a trick to disguise the limitations of a work, in this case the vagueness argument for 2 hours. If you take it as audiovisual film is fascinating, aesthetically timeless, and a supreme expression of good taste. It is indie to the extent that it is colorful and dynamic as a Pop product. Its like a shampoo: soft, pretty colors, elegant, is rich and seems to be as essential or transcendental that you hardly notice that it is a product for mass marketing in the world. “Under The Skin” is not as imperative or global (its Pop, but mismarketed), but it is a nice trademark about human nature (which includes love and danger) and better than many of the indie public-oriented films that have been made in recent times…

  • Under the Skin is Jonathan Glazer’s new film which tells the tale of an alien seductress (Scarlett Johansson) who goes after hitchhikers and citizens in Scotland. It’s loosely based off of the novel by Michel Faber.

    There are plenty of great aspects to this film, including the score by Mica Levi. It leaves a spacey-dark feeling in the head as it follows Johansson on a pursuit of becoming human. Visually, the film is great. There are some weird spaces, including scenes where it seems Johansson is walking on solid land while the hitchhiker seems to be sinking into this black liquid. It is a very scary experience.

    The most interesting part of it is that some of the men in the film are actors and some of them are actual people. It’s so hard to tell the difference, making it so intriguing for the audience. It’s almost a guessing game, as you’re never able to tell who is who.

    Glazer’s direction is fantastic. He knows what he wants and he executes it. He pulled out everything he wanted from the story. The idea of an alien becoming human was well executed.

    However, there’s something sour about the film. It left me wondering if I missed something when I know I didn’t. If it hadn’t been for the book, many questions would have been left unanswered. Glazer’s third film is definitely not his best. It feels unfinished at some points. While it has redeeming qualities, it isn’t what many critics are currently building it up to be.

  • When we first meet Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin, she is staring at herself. Or rather the self that will soon cover its nakedness with the clothes being taken off her soon to be lifeless body. Who is this first Scarlett, whose body was recovered from the roadside by a mysterious motorcyclist? We never find out, but this second Scarlett soon reveals herself to be an extraterrestrial predator.

    This exotic insect, raven-haired and red-lipped, is constantly gazing about her Scottish surroundings as she drives around, scanning the ordinary Glaswegian faces for her next prey. The men she picks up and lures back to her flat find themselves in a dark and cavernous space, but they take no note. They simply follow this seductress, shedding their clothes as she sheds hers, sinking deeper and deeper into some strange liquid until it finally overtakes them.

    Click here for the complete review

  • Director Jonathan Glazer’s third film in 13 years, Under the Skin, begins with a collection of hauntingly beautiful but unfathomable images, while the soundtrack whispers a strange, alien voice that gradually evolves into broken English. Clearly taking 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) as its main inspiration, the film is a hark back to a time when sci-fi was a canvas for art, placing less importance on plot and narrative, and delving deep into the philosophical side of outer space and the great unknown. A dead girl is picked up from the side of the road by a man on a motorcycle (Jeremy McWilliams) and brought to a curious-looking female, Laura (Scarlett Johansson), who dons the girls clothes and is next seen on the streets of Glasgow.

    We don’t know who these people are, and know little about them by the time the final credits roll. Glazer shows us snippets at an extremely leisurely pace – this is a ‘high art’ film that will no doubt have as many people staring at the screen in wonder as it will people checking their watches. We get the sense that the motorcycle man is bad, and as Laura starts to pick up random men in a white van, taking them home and leading them, erections bulging, into a dark black substance, it would seem that she isn’t too nice either. But when she picks up a man disfigured by neurofibromatosis, she begins to feel sympathy, letting the man go free and wandering off into the Scottish Highlands to explore our world, trying to make sense of her new emotions.

    What is most fascinating about Under the Skin is the way it manages to juggle hyper-realism with genuinely eerie, provocative science fiction. What happens beneath the mysterious black liquid I won’t reveal here, but it’s a moment of unexpected horror that felt like a slap in the face. The sense of realism is no doubt thanks to Glazer’s decision not to hire actors for the victims, and instead opted to use hidden cameras to capture their genuine reaction to being picked up by a beautiful woman and driven home for sex. It gives the film a slightly sleazy edge, and we only see Laura’s transformation start to take shape when she picks up the deformed man – a quiet, possibly virginal man who has experienced much suffering.

    Scarlett Johansson is a revelation. Hiding her glamorous Hollywood beauty behind a head of dark hair and cheap clothes, she is at first calculating and in control, luring victims with relative ease. But when she first experiences sympathy and flees her apparent mission, she experiences both ends of the spectrum of the human experience. A friendly man takes her in, providing food and a roof over her head, and Laura starts to appreciate her own body, curiously observing her own naked form in the mirror. Her next experience lands her in the clutches of a rapey construction worker. By the time the credits roll, many will be left feeling cold, confused and possibly bored, but I found Under the Skin to be an experience like no other, and it places Glazer at the top of the list of the many young, talented British directors to keep tabs on.

    Rating: 4/5

  • “Who is it you’re waiting for?”

    “A genuine revelation. We may finally have an heir to Kubrick,” states LA Weekly in the film’s trailer. With A chilling score shrieking like crisp nails on a chalkboard juxtaposed with the serene countryside of Glasgow, LA Weekly may be on to something. The contradiction between score and cinematography is haunting yet beautiful. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen nor heard in recent years in the void of science fiction cinema…until now.

    It can be interpreted that the film uses aliens as a metaphor to question what it means to be human and what it’s like to be free of judgment or predisposed to our superficial culture. It’s completely bizarre and frightening yet impossible to look away from. Director Johnathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth) has resurrected Kubrick-style science fiction that faded off-screen decades ago.

    The science fiction genre has been in a slump for over a decade—Prometheus and Avatar are some recent sci-fi flicks of notoriety that come to mind, but nothing cutting edge outside of their boundary-pushing graphics. There’s also the endless supply of D-list remakes from the Predator and Alien franchises that serve no other purpose but to cash in from the once successful original films. Science Fiction has been a genre that pokes around every few years, but never recreates an immortalizing effect of awe or originality. As the LA Times states, “Watching this film feels like a genesis moment–of sci-fi fable, of filmmaking, of performance—with all the ambiguity and excitement that implies.”

    Under the Skin, adapted by a 2000 Michael Faber novel, is being called a sci-fi art film, containing a simplistic plot with little dialogue and nameless characters. The film explores the Scottish countryside where an alien, played by Scarlett Johansson, inhabits a human body and lures unsuspecting men into her car bringing them to an abandoned warehouse.

    The film, a project 10 years in the making, had critics split with both boos and cheers when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The film presents new levels in filmmaking, but asks the profound question of what it means to be human. Director Johnathan Glazer strips Esquire’s twice crowned “Sexiest Woman Alive” into a civilian wardrobe blending her into the Glasgow community. Undoubtedly Johansson’s beauty shines through Glazer’s disguise, but Johansson covers new ground despite having little dialogue. From her perplexed expression while caught in a nightclub to her grim looks of unconcern in bone-chilling scenes result in an absolutely brilliant and groundbreaking performance for her as an actress.

    Glazer shot the film in a candid, almost documentary-like way of storytelling. Many scenes consist of Johansson driving around the countryside and city picking up unsuspecting male victims (and non-actors). Glazer covered the vehicle with hidden cameras, along with his crew and immediately gave disclaimer forms to ordinary civilians being seduced by the unrecognizable Johansson. In addition to the non-actors entering the vehicles, many of the film’s establishing scenes in the city were shot without public notice; filming in secrecy to create a level of authenticity.

    Outside of his unconventional filmmaking, Glazer also takes a twist on rape culture; where women are typically the victims of these forms of assault, now the hunted become the hunters. In the film, “Scarlett’s character is made to attract men,” Glazer tells io9.com. “She performs that function. She’s a machine, she’s a tool, in a way. But a lot of the people she tried to pick up didn’t respond in the way you would expect if you were to write this as a piece of comic-book fiction. Scarlett Johansson pulls up, [and] in you get… some were suspicious. Some were wary. Some were frightened. You see a whole range of complexity of how men do respond to that scenario.’” Glazer takes a twist on gender dynamics and flips the status-quot upside down.

    One of the more profound scenes of alienation came from actor Adam Pearson. Pearson was born with neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes non-cancerous tumors to grow on nerve tissues; in his case, the majority of these tumors are on his face. The pivotal scene involves Pearson entering Johnannson’s car where she remains unfazed by his disfigurement and remarks on how beautiful his hands are. The scene can be understood that because she is void of human nature, she is emotionally blind to what culture considers beautiful; a scene that Pearson believes helped him challenged the stigma of disfigurement.

    While some critics remain dissatisfied with unanswered questions in the film and the overall ambiguity of Under the Skin, those who look closer can find a deeper value under the film’s surface. The film forces you to watch as an observer of this alien nature like the alien itself…touching upon the notions of unbiased human emotions indisposed to good versus evil, beauty versus monster and right versus wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *