I didn’t see the drama/sci-fi/thriller Under the Skin (2013) when it was first released (the casting of Scarlett Johansson led me to believe that it would be mainstream naffness), but then I saw it on DVD over xmas, and again the very next night… and again last night finally at the cinema.
It’s fantastic on a little TV with built-in speakers in my house, but good god it’s good at the cinema. I think every possible emotion is represented in the film, from longing to confusion, from fear to lust. Very broadly, the plot consists of an alien (Johansson) luring men to their deaths.
Set in Scotland, mostly on rainy or foggy days, and starring nearly all “non-actors”, Under the Skin is mostly quite dreary when it comes to colour. With the exception of Johansson who looks, well, alien, the film is full of normal, everyday people.
As well as an incredible score from Mica Levi, the sound in this film is very minimalist, featuring a lot of generic and real background noise, and very little dialogue. Each character, each piece of music and each glorious special effect can be described as mysterious and threatening.
Jonathan Glazer’s very loose adaptation of Under the Skin may be one of the most effective films of its kind. The kind of films that presents questions rather than answers, tackles mood over narrative, and experiments with both form and content in an attempt to get to the heart of cinema. – Film Festival Flix
Glazer’s film takes great care in defining these places that the alien stalks around, as if finding some realism in the fantasy will create a new dialogue between the two. However, in this sense, Glazer moves away from the norm of this relationship and instead creates fantastical inner landscapes to contrast against the vast, rugged landscape of Scotland in both its rural and cityscape forms… A large part of Glazer’s film is reliant on the alien’s reaction and relation to the social landscape of Scotland. – Celluloid Wicker Man