Posted March 9, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews

Under The Skin Review

Under the Skin - Official UK PosterWIDE

Based on a novel by Michael facer – Jonathan Glazer’s directorial effort is a bit of a mind hump. Anyone that has seen the teaser trailer for Under The Skin is well prepared for a world of bizarre imagery and a strangely intense performance from Scarlett Johansson that is immediately the polar opposite of perhaps what we have seen from her work across the pond.

To be fair, this is Art House cinema using Johansson’s sex appeal and perception as its greatest weapon. Here everything is slow and minimal, whilst the visuals do the most of the work.

We immediately find a naked Johansson stripping the corpse of a young girl of her clothing and dressing herself in the clothes. She then takes to the wheel of a transit van and then scours the busy streets at night occasionally pulling over to offer lifts to lonely men.

Where this basic trap goes is only part of the curiosity of this strange character. For what seems like half the length of the film we are constantly out in the van with Johansson as she goes through this routine again and again with little to no development in the character or what her motivations are. The occasional time when we do see what follows

The film is very deliberate in is mood, its tone and the time it takes to show the very little that it wants to show you. And it will survive in the cult realms under that power. In modern art house cinema there is almost a free pass at the door for film-makers who make their work deliberately oblique against the straight and narrows of conventional cinema.

The problem with the dark and dour tone of the film  is that it really can drag you down into the dirt for a little bit too long, leaving a numb and unfulfilled feeling after watching the film. In the end what has been achieved is a veiled look at life. It will never get the appreciation of a mainstream audience, but it’s certainly a creative notch on the belts of those involved – whether people like the film or not.

3 Stars




Steven Hurst