Wednesday 16 July 2014

Under The Skin

Just released into Blu-ray and DVD land is Under The Skin, which stars Scarlett Johansson as the most beautiful alien in the universe. The film is directed by Jonathan Glazer and is based on the book of the same name by Michel Faber.

The story is the simplest bit, but prepare yourself for the most beautiful, visceral film that you have ever seen and probably will never truly understand. Scarlett Johansson plays a voluptuous femme fatale alien creature that drives around Scotland kidnapping men without families or friends and then murdering them in a way that feels like a psychedelic freak out. Imagine a version of the Aha video for ‘Take Me On’ directed by Darren Aronofsky. It’s around here that you may consider turning the film off, but stick with it.

From the second the film started I felt a surge of emotion pinning me to my chair, Scarlett is so effortlessly seductive that, despite there being no more than one hundred words of dialogue in the film, I was completely taken by her. So much so in fact that if, after the movie had finished, she offered to kidnap me and told me that her floor was going to drink me to death, I’d sill go with her. I don’t know why she made this film, if it was a passion project or if she owed an artistic crime syndicate a favour, but for me this is the performance of her career. Well at least of the films she’s done in Scotland.

The other star of the whole films is Mica Levi who wrote the soundtrack, and really, this film is a feature length music video for her creepy, discordant music. A match made in heaven. Though a heaven as imagined by André Breton.

I can see that, for some people, this one may be a bit too abnormal for them and it’s definitely a polarising film. I also imagine at least one of the five star reviews it has received is due, in no small part, because someone hasn’t understood it at all and was worried people would think they were stupid. Which, by the way, is how I feel when watching political debates.

Under the Skin is the very definition of artistic cinema, and Scarlett Johansson is the very definition of an actress and a siren. Her sexuality bursts out of the screen so intensely that it’s probably ok to say that you lost your virginity to her after your DVD goes back to the main menu. The tension in the film was almost unbearable and if the seats in front of me where not so close, I would’ve been on the edge of mine the whole way through. Instead I became a voluntary patron of the Ludovico Technique, drenched in a whole world of creepy, dissonant music, erotic subtext and enough surreal visual imagery to make Dali twirl his moustache with glee.

I absolutely insist that you get this film if you’re sick of the boring movies-by-numbers that you are getting fed today, and especially if you like your brain to dribble out your ears like a jelly slipping off a plate.

Under the Skin gets a 5/5.


Dave Roberts

Under the Skin at CeX

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