Thursday, June 26, 2014

Under the Skin (2013)

Director: Jonathan Glazer
Writers:  Michel Faber (Novel), Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer
Cast:       Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams

A mysterious alien seductress preys upon the male population of Scotland.

The film starts with a tripping scene which would remind one of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It starts like a scene in space but ends up with shot of the eyes of Scarlett's character which could be an alien robot with artificial intelligence. She is under the command of another man who rides a sports bike. She is dressed up and send in a van to seduce her preys. Her victims are led by her into a room where they get naked and they get sunk into a black liquid upon following her. It can be seen subsequently that their bodies undergo some transformation and the plasma like residue is used by the aliens for some purpose unknown to us. She finally chooses a young man with disfigured face as her prey and after burying him she seems top have a change of heart, if that is the correct word. This is after she looks disturbed looking at her eyes in a mirror and previously in the film one of her victim had alluded to the fact that her eyes are special. She decides to drive away into Scottish wilderness even as her controller intensifies search for her. A slave robot going rogue is not an uncommon these kind of films but what makes the film special is the way it is presented. The imagery is stunning and soundtrack proper creepy. She tries in vain to behave like humans even though humanity is not shown in favorable light. 

I don't think Scarlett Johnson has appeared in any films naked before and in this one when she does, it is portrayed in a very unsexy way.  The whole film can be seen as a metaphor of what would happen when a Hollywood star(alien) have encounters with ordinary people. The whole film is shown from the alien perspective and unlike the usual Hollywood films, everything here is deliberately unsexy and awkward. Many of the co-actors are non-actors and the lines are largely improvised with them being given just an idea about the scene and to what extent they should be willing to go. Having a fling with Scarlett would be among most people's wet dreams and when it actually occurs here in the film for some, it doesn't turn out to be how they imagined. The film is an adaptation of Michel Faber's novel of the same name and I am not in a position to say whether it is a straight interpretation of it.

The other Jonathan Glazer film that I have seen is 'Sexy Beast', which enjoys a cult following. That film and this is like chalk and cheese. The film is cold and creepily beautiful like Scotland it is set in. It will divide the audience but watch it if you are a fan of the surreal stuff.

Rating: 4.5/5