MOVIE REVIEW | Under the Skin (2014)


“When is the last time you touched someone?”

Ever get to the end of a movie and have no idea what it was about? I don’t mean you were just confused by the plot. I mean, you have no idea what emotion the movie was trying to elicit, how you were supposed to see the characters and their actions, what message the movie set out to impart. Well, if you want a complete lack of answers to these and dozens more questions, you should watch Under the Skin.

Scarlett Johannson is some sort of alien. She tools around Scotland in an anonymous white van, louring in men, before taking them to some sort of giant sensory deprivation sex warehouse. But the poor bastards are engulfed in a weird, invisible liquid to have their skin harvested before any rumpy can get pumpy.

Following Johannson is a mysterious motorcyclist who seems to be kind of cleaning up after her, keeping an eye on her, making sure her mission is going to plan. What mission, you may ask? I’m still asking that too. At times it seems like she’s studying these men, and human nature in general, trying to learn what makes us tick. At others, it seems like she’s just there to give giant sensory deprivation sex warehouses a bad name.

Every article or review I hear or see about this movie always focuses on the way it was made. Johannson driving around Scotland, secretly filming conversations with every day dudes, then incorporating them into the movie. But here’s the thing, as interesting as that might be, the making of a movie should have absolutely no impact on whether or not you like it, or to what degree. I don’t give a shit if it’s based on a true story, how meticulous the production designers were in creating a period in history, the dedication of the actors to their roles. None of that matters. All that matters is the execution, the end result.

So, while this rant may have done exactly what I’m ranting against, by bringing attention to the unconventional techniques used in making Under the Skin, I’m just so sick of that being the basis of every review and piece of criticism that I had to vent. Especially since I think it took me out of the story while watching the movie.

Instead of wondering what was happening to a character, I’d be wondering if the scene was shot before or after the non-actor on screen knew they were being filmed. Or thinking, that dude looks pretty stoked to be getting his ding dong out for Scarlett Johannson. Somehow, I don’t think they are the kinds of questions writer and director Jonathan Glazer was hoping to solicit from his audience.

I’m not sure if I got Under the Skin. I’m not sure if I liked Under the Skin. But I am sure it kind of intrigued me and never bored me. I’m also pretty sure it’s the kind of movie you could watch with the sound down while listening to a great album, and it would make just as much sense, and remain just as intriguing.

Under the Skin
Directed By – Jonathan Glazer
Written By – Jonathan Glazer, Walter Campbell

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