Under the Skin
Johnathan Glazer, the director behind Sexy Beast and the lesser-known film Birth has divided audiences with his new release, an adaptation of Michael Faber’s sci-fi novel of the same name. In Glazer’s version, a sexually alluring alien being, played by Scarlett Johansson, preys on unsuspecting men in gloomy Glasgow, luring them back to her dilapidated house and ensnaring them so that they will never be seen again. As her journey progresses, however, the plot becomes about her accidental attempt at integrating into a world that she does not understand.
The film is certainly unique, offering some explanation for its divisiveness, given that the audience at last year’s Venice Film Festival met it with boos, while others have described it as a masterpiece. It should be heralded, even if just for attempting to tell a story in a new and absorbing way, using stunning visual effects in conjunction with sound that harkens back to Glazer’s experience as a director of music videos. Indeed, the alien’s “theme” should one day be as immediately recognisable and chilling as that for the great white in jaws.
The style of filming is also impressively distinctive. While method acting has long been utilised by those stars who want to go deeper into their character by adopting their lifestyle prior to the shoot, Johansson is filmed interacting with real people using surveillance equipment. Thus, Glazer manages to draw the audience into the character’s experience, that they end up viewing other humans through her eyes as an alien species. Indeed, by the end of the movie, the protagonist has become vulnerable and pursued herself, in such a way that turns our understanding of human behaviour and experience on its head. It is wholly fascinating and will hopefully prove to be a seminal work.
Under the Skin is released nationwide on 14th March 2014.
Watch the trailer for Under the Skin here: