Review this movie
Nov 24, 2014Easily the smartest and most interesting film I've seen in 2014. Scarlett Johansson offers a brilliant performance- subtle at the start with an increasing sense of emotional peril as she loses her "human" exterior but seems to gain an inner humanity.
The story follows her change from heartless, unemotional and detached alien doing her job of collecting specimens, (or skins) for an unsaid nefarious purpose, to her bonding with humanity to the point that she betrays her employer/fellow aliens as she tries to rather hopelessly join the local earthlings and taste the joys and pains of humanity.
The film handles this in such an abstract and original way that it takes effort to keep up. It is not a film for those who want to leer at naked Johansson- which results in the negative scores, which, if you think about it, is really funny.
This is a film of the quality found in the directorial hands of a very few directors- Antonio and Kubrick spring to mind. It demands we watch it at it's own pace, and it moves away from the regular trappings of standard sci-fi fare into more artsy, thinking realms.
The performances of many of Scarlett's male victims seem natural and unforced- you really get the feeling she is preying upon people on our "real earth" as we pass through shopping malls and drab, regular, lower middle class places. This wildly complements the scenes aboard the alien's den, which are stark, artistically blank canvases. The effect is jarring and unsettling.
Some viewers complain about a "lack of story", but I didn't find this true at all. Johansson's brilliant double metamorphosis from lovely perfect human exterior with it's cold, calculating inhuman interior, into just the opposite- an alien monstrosity which now possesses empathy, joy, curiosity, pity and fear- is a might and moving transformation, and for this viewer, following this path is what gives Under the Skin it's unique look at the human condition, from a perspective I had not visited before.
And that is what film, when it is art, is all about.
Beautiful and horrific at the same time, this magnificent film reminds me of that similar balance of humanity and terror found in the equally wonderful Swedish vampire film, Let the Right One In.
This movie is for those who like real contemplation after their films- definitely not for the quickie gore/sexy nude actress crowd, nor the thrill ride set either, and I expect having Scarlett in the lead role, and the knowledge that she bares all here, (more than most actors ever will in the most extraordinary ways), probably has led many to expect an entirely different sort of experience than this smart, beautifully original motion picture.… Expand
Nov 7, 2014Really, this film is flawless. Scarlett Johansson is fantastic, as in fact are all of the supporting cast members. Visually it is one of the most stunning and captivating films I have ever seen. The soundtrack alone makes this film a cut above the rest. And it also contains strong emotional moments, I cried at I think three separate points of the film, all for different reasons.
Sep 30, 2014Simple flow diagram for this movie: Do you like Arthouse movies? | | Yes No | | Do you like Scarlett Johanssen? Do you like Scarlett Johanssen? | | | |
Yes No Yes No
| | | |
Watch this film Watch this film Don't watch this film Don't watch this film… Expand
Aug 24, 2014I saw this movie and initially liked it very much but became concerned because it overlooked some obvious problems with the narrative especially towards the end where 1) somehow the ugly man escapes, and 2) something scares her in the cabin in the woods. The more I think about it, though, these details do not matter. The viewer is given room to think for themselves and I appreciated the opportunity to fill in the gaps myself. Most of the movie provides enough information to draw general conclusions and powerful emotions. Some people will hate it because this is a sensual rather than a narrative experience. People expect stories and this is more like an out of body experience. I found it fascinating. I learned things about people, about humanity. We are good. We are lustful. We are kind. We are ugly. We are stupid. We are beautiful. We are tragic.
I will give a positive rating to any movie that is unforgettable. Or a movie that can change the way I see humanity. I think the scene where she leaves the baby on the beach will stay with me forever. And the conversation she has with the ugly man and her decision to run away after his escape. These scenes were powerful, logical, and downright fascinating. I can’t stop thinking about this movie.
It was disturbing to see humanity through the lens of this thing that walked among us in such a friendly city. That she was looking for lonely men made her less despicable. That she attempted to fit in for a while and try to live among us was both charming and pathetic. What happened at the end of the movie made sense, because she didn’t fit in. She was objectified by men… brought out the worst in most (but the best in others).
Art is left up for interpretation, and I think this qualifies. People will either hate or love this movie. It was too over-simplified to mask its deficits with confusing b.s. … it did not attempt to hide its flaws. It was deliberately made this way, whether you liked it or not. I liked it better than most movies i have ever seen. It gave me new insights. It got under my skin.… Expand
Aug 18, 2014Personally, I Wont Take The Path Of Pretentious Criticism & Multivariate Jargon, But I Want To Point That the movie is radiant example of contemporary cinema, away from the typical sci-fi manifestations, and even from recent cinematic expression in its totality.
If u want good, creative, inspiring cinema please do ur self a favour and watch the movie. If u want something else, widely approachable and easily "consumable" I suggest you better tune ur self to Godzilla, or Transformers. Have fun what ever u choose.… Expand
Jul 29, 2014My favourite film so far this year. The atmosphere is creepy, tense and disturbing. It says a huge amount with elegance and economy. It forces the viewer to think and evaluate, come to their own conclusions and (probably) fill in the gaps with their own fears and short-comings. I should also mention that the soundtrack is perfectly fitting.
I would not recommend the film for people who enjoy the usual Hollywood fare of spectacle and explosion. If you enjoyed movies like those of Andrei Tarkovsky, you will love this. Scarlett Johansson is once again beguiling and stunning. An amazing movie!… Expand
Jul 27, 2014This will split the community into those expecting the Nude-Avengers and those seeking esoteric Arthouse. It belongs firmly in the latter and is top-line. Johansson shows again what she is capable of when given the opportunity to develop a character (see Lost in Translation).
With little dialogue, the interactions of the characters are intensified into a choreography and the story, itself almost banal, is just a space in which to dance. There will not be a sequel and both sides of the community will be grateful, but for very different reasons.… Expand
Jul 26, 2014Yes, that is a 10 rating. Why? Because it is refreshing to see a film that relies on the exercising of our cerebrums rather than satisfying the "lizard" parts of our brain with non-stop action, gratuitous sex, and over-the-top CGI animation. Ironically, it is exactly that older, basic part of our brain to which the hapless victims in this film succumb, lured by the de-glammed and striking natural beauty of Scarlett Johansson, an apparent alien known to the viewers and her prey as "Laura." At times both mesmerizing and repulsive, Laura is both succubus and protagonist as we ride this existential roller-coaster to a surprising yet oddly appropriate conclusion. I will admit that your average sci-fi addict may find this film a bit to "artsy," but this movie is much more than a science fiction about aliens who have developed a fondness for human flesh tartare (a far too common theme). This film is more of a mirror reflecting back a sobering view of the human condition, both at its worst and at its best.
When the film starts as a small point of light in the distance surrounded by total darkness, growing ever larger until it is large enough to morph into what appears to be a surreal image of birth, then followed by a transformation into an eclipse and then a human pupil and iris. The accompanying musical score is both irritating and eerie, a combination that makes the viewer edgy and fixated on the imagery. I couldn't help but immediately think of certain scenes from Stanley Kurbrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," a stylistic homage not lost on many viewers and critics, it seems. Next we see a fully safety-suited motorcyclist (the suit almost reminds one of a space garment) retrieve the body of a young woman (Scarlett Johansson) from what appears to be a ditch on the side of the road. The next scene is of this body placed on a lighted floor being stripped by a naked woman (also Ms. Johansson) who then puts on her clothes just as we see a single tear coming from the left eye and running down the cheek of the newly naked woman on the floor. The alien woman (but is she really a woman?) now has the appearance of the doomed female on the floor. From this point forward, "Laura" drives about Glasgow in a white, windowless van selecting her prey (young men) like an urban-camouflaged jaguar. She feigns being lost, a ploy that allows her to interview various men on the street, making sure they meet the right profile (young, strong, single, childless, live alone), then seductively offers them a ride that ends horribly for each victim who passes through the entry way to her home. Once inside, the seductive dance continues as Laura, well ahead of her duped would-be lover, continues to strip in an endless dark space covered by a jet-black, shining floor. Her amorous suitors, following entranced, also de-cloth, and soon the floor turns into black liquid that engulfs each one, at which point Laura gathers up her discarded apparel on what to her is a still solid floor. At one point the director allows us to see the fate that awaits those who become encased in this pool, and it is one of the most horrific scenes in cinematic history, and also where we learn one of the meanings of the film's title .
Ultimately, the huntress Laura lures a facially disfigured man into her inescapable liquid web, but then allows him to leave even after he becomes submerged, the first evidence of compassion exhibited by the alien (As an illustration of just how devoid of compassion these visitors can be, in an earlier scene, Laura is chatting up a foreign surfer on the beach as a woman tries to save her drowning dog from the raging surf, her husband then tries to save her, then finally the surfer tries to save the husband, but fails, only to wash up on the beach to be clubbed over the head by Laura and dragged off to her van, as the family's infant is left crying, now alone on the beach. The abandoned child is still there, hours later, when the motorcycle man shows up to clean up the crime scene, completely ignoring the child.). After letting the one man escape (her act of mercy later thwarted by the motorcycle driver), something changes, leaving Laura in a semi-catatonic state, abandoning her van and wandering aimlessly through Glasgow and into the country side where a well-meaning man takes here in and tries to nurse her back to health. It is at this point she seems to awaken to the fact that humans are more than haute cuisine. It is also following this epiphany that she is exposed to both the best and worst aspects of human behavior, the final consequences of the latter that lead to her demise.
I found this movie refreshing, chilling, artistically brilliant, and thought provoking. Scarlett Johansson was the perfect combination of feline seductress and passionless, other-worldly entity that slowly transforms into confused catatonia as she begins to develop empathy for her former prey.… Expand
Jul 17, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I'm glad Peter Bradshaw (a critic I've sometimes found irritating) gave this 5 stars in The Guardian. It's a remarkable film. Though I don't think it's particularly scary, it is certainly disturbing and has that claustrophobic quality of nightmare, both sluggish and speeded-up at the same time. It reminded me of The Man Who Fell to Earth but is, I think, much more interesting. To quote Bradshaw's review:
"Between encounters, she roams, gazing at streetscapes, and making them alien with that gaze – like a Craig Raine poem. At one stage, she and her van are surrounded by guys with Celtic scarves. She is the ultimate Rangers supporter."
Nice to see Raine get a nod, though I don't know if I completely agree with the comparison. One of the intentions of 'Martian' poetry was to render the ordinary exotic and strange (a kind of embossment of what most good poems usually do). In a way, the first part of Under The Skin does just the opposite. The alien gaze flattens and greys out everything, making street-scenes, etc. look even more boringly flat and grey (perhaps Glazer's main reason for choosing Glasgow). And it's the relentless accumulation of such scenes, and they way they contrast with other aspects of the film, that alerts one to the fact that the artlessness is quite deliberate (if you're disposed to attaching labels, 'postmodern' will do very nicely).
Also, I'm very surprised Bradshaw's review didn't mention one of the most compelling things about Glazer's film, his use of guerilla camerawork and 'casting': the encounters between Johansson's alien and the random men she chats up is given a generous dollop of reality because they were being filmed secretly and had no idea they were taking part in a sci-fi movie. Each one had to be (literally) chased down after the scene so that he could sign the release form. Apparently about half of them refused, including one poor guy who understandably took fright at being pursued down a backstreet by some looney waving a piece of paper. Maybe that's part of what Bradshaw meant when he said 'the film comes with a dog-whistle of absurdist humour', though I would have thought that most people were by now aware of this aspect of the film (one of its selling points as far as I'm concerned).
I had some quibbles, mostly regarding the initial impressions of the alien's lair with its tarry, carnivorous floor. It seemed too slick and pop-video for my taste, but be patient; it does, rather horrifically, redeem itself later.
Plot-wise, not a whole lot happens and the story, such as it is, is pretty grim. As The Blair Witch Project divided audiences, slicing a clean line between those who loved or hated it, so will Under The Skin. But there wasn't much need to hunt for vein in my case. It got right in there.… Expand
Jul 13, 2014I'm astonished. This movie is literally like nothing I've ever seen. Scarlett Johansson gives a performance like nothing she's ever done. While it's not considered one, this is one of the greatest horror movies that I've ever scene. I've never had nightmares about a movie or T.V. show I've watched since I was eight years old. But the best thing in this movie is by far the music. I didn't even know you could make music like this. Under the Skin is an instant classic. See it. Now. NOW!… Expand
Jul 4, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I took mom to see Under The Skin yesterday. Aside from the explicit sexual themes, disturbing imagery and nearly wordless plot progression, bringing mom was a good idea. After all, she’s into a good sci fi flic, likes Scarlet Johansson, and she enjoys wrestling the kind of difficult, challenging ideas put forth in this film. Plus the promise of gorgeous views of the Scottish countryside really paid off, which was perhaps what mom liked most.
What mom didn’t like were actually the things I did. This film allegorically describes and criticizes male and female relations, focusing on how women are driven to treat men brutally. The film is a visual metaphor, criticizing ruthless femininity, oppressive institutional forces, sex and beauty as power, as well as the restoration of femininity and our humanity.
This film’s ideas and plot are moved along almost entirely without dialogue. It might be tough for some viewers to follow this story told through images, but I’m sure it’s even more challenging to tell a tale in this way. This film, however, does this almost flawlessly and one feels led by capable hands in this regard. Many of the scenes not only move the overt story forward efficiently, but also engage the audience to consider the films sub -text, which revolves around issues of gender relations in our society. The story and characters are therefore a means by which to discuss these difficult matters, things which people rarely talk about. Its lack of dialogue might almost be viewed as saying, “social discourse rarely touches on such things…” This film, then is the best kind of sci- fi, because its ideas are relevant for our use today, and is commenting on important human themes.
The film opens with an unknown man stopping his motorcycle in night, walking down to beach and retrieving a lifeless female body. He deposits it into a van, and in the following scene, Scarlett’s character is seen assuming the identity of this lifeless woman by removing the body’s clothes. This turns out to be symbolic of removal of the body’s skin as well, because we find out that Scarlett’s character is an Extra Terrestrial, who uses the guise- and skin- of a beautiful young woman to do her job. Her object on earth? Seduce single, young men from the open window of her van, in the night , bring them back to her abode, coax them to follow her across the magical, mirror-like, watery floor of her bedroom until these men are submerged and disappear. Once the victim is submerged, she puts her clothes back on and goes back to work.. Three men into this ritual, we see the awful fate of the victims: their insides are sucked out from them, leaving only the skin, with their innards shipped off to somewhere….
This horror, we come to discover, are guided at least in part by the crotch- rocket man. His influence is not fully understood until the beautiful female ET accidently picks up an ugly man to bring to his doom. Upon receiving the ugly man, however, the spell of ruthlessness and murder is broken, because she feels the humanity of this character. She has compassion for him. Unlike the others she seduced, who were out partying and having fun, this man is walking at night to buy groceries, simply hoping to avoid the hateful judgment of others. Though he is grossly deformed, she comments on how nice his hands are and the man begins to weep. Ruthless devotion to her intent is destroyed by this man’s innocence, ugliness and humanity. Coaxed to the watery pit, she frees him suddenly. Thus begins her journey to restoration.
Because she spares this man from her deadly pursuit, the crotch rocket man now chases her. She cannot be allowed to stop being ruthless, let alone pity someone who is ugly and outcast from the brutal game of beauty and power. She must not find her own, and others’ humanity. She escapes into the beautiful Scottish country, and the wild interior of her own nature. She is taken in by a kind man who makes her dinner and invites her into his home. They go for a walk, and one beautiful image is of this man carrying the ET across a large puddle, evoking the haunted, watery mirror which she used to destroy the men she met in the past. They go back to his house and they eat. Upstairs, he kisses her and they begin to have sex. When her hymen breaks, she recoils, unprepared for the pain and vulnerability of her humanity. Fleeing, she takes refuge in a cabin in the forest. After being lulled to sleep by the endless span of nature, like a baby in a womb, she awakens suddenly, remembering the peril she is in because of the crotch -rocket man. Running, she finds an empty logging truck, tries to steal it but is seen by its driver, who chases and then attempts to rape her. Through this assault, her shell is ripped and the man staggers back, horrified by the sight of her true inside. He runs off and as she walks away, the rest of her false skin falls off. Now the ET is fully revealed: Dark, feminine, beautiful, strange…unspeakable. As she looks down and comes to see this part of herself, the trucker has returned and murders her. Her wild, interior nature is certainly not allowed to live…only devotion to the brutal game of falseness and exteriority can survive. She is left a smoking char in the snow after being burnt alive.
This last sequence of events demonstrates the power of the allegorical nature of this film. The idea that women are driven- through male-dominated, institutional forces- to carelessly seduce and even to destroy men is difficult and nearly unspeakable. Scarletts’ ET is initiated into a state of compassion, humanity and the interiority of her being, the one thing that cannot survive.… Expand
Jul 4, 2014Under the Skin is a masterpiece; brilliantly directed by Jonathan Glazer and with Scarlett Johansson at her finest - the film is beautiful, entertaining, fun, disturbing, haunting and incredibly memorable. With a smart screenplay, great acting and a stellar production, Under the Skin is a film destined to bury itself into the mind of its viewers. One of the best films of the year thus far.
Jun 27, 2014Like Welles’ The War of the Worlds and other iconic science fiction entertainment offerings – from films like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and The Matrix to TV shows like Star Trek and Doctor Who - Under the Skin is a seminal entry in the genre. Like those iconic entries, this film sets a new standard of excellence in the genre. And like those iconic entries, this film will be talked about for decades to come.… Expand
Jun 26, 2014What a remarkable film. Unconventional to the extremes and plays on our human emotions with such deeply disturbing visuals, not to mention the incredible score and soundscapes. This movie is unforgettable and is a very important step in modern expressionism within the parameters of film.
A movie this bold is obviously not everyone's cup of tea... but i'm excited to see where Jonathan Glazer will go from here.
Also, props to Scarlett's incredible performance.… Expand
May 15, 2014Anyone wanting simple-minded, run-of-the-mill shallow plot and celebrity action will be disappointed. But if you appreciate a challenge, a visual masterpiece, with fascinating loose ends that will keep you thinking long after you see it ..... then this is for you. Suspend your need to analyze and understand everything, and let your imagination soar. This could become one of the true cult films, to join Blade Runner, 2001, and Alien, but with deeper and darker places to haunt you. There are THREE main stars: Johansen of course, in a role that expands her repertoir admirably, the Scottish wet/damp 'noir' background, and the mysteriously occult part of the story which will indeed work its way under your skin and remain with you especially when you cannot sleep late on a rany night.… Expand
May 10, 2014There is absolutely no shame in not understanding this movie completely. But giving a low review score simply because of that fact is really a shame. This movie is visually outstanding, and I had just so much fun being able to engage with the non-linear story that didn't spoonfeed itself to me. Whoever thinks that Scarlett Johansson is a lightweight simply needs to see this film. The scene on the beach? One of the most chilling sequences I've ever seen in a film.… Expand
Apr 24, 2014See this movie, worth every penny !! Fun to watch, and leaves you thinking way after the movie is over....With so many boring movies out there, this is one you have to see. See this in the movie theater , as the big screen really intensifies the surreal scenery.
Apr 19, 2014Oh my God. I was always excited for this film, but this is just above and beyond what I could have imagined. This film is not for everyone because it's so incredibly arthouse, but I honestly think that if people talked about the film, they'd see it in a new light.
Virtually nothing here is meant to be taken literally; it's extremely symbolic. It's an allegorical trip that is haunting, intriguing, sublime, gorgeous, sad, different, strange, human, spellbinding, unforgettable, and masterful, utilizing all of these qualities that convey what it means to be a human. What is also is about, though, is reveling in the questions and finding answers.
The cinematography is immaculate and the sound design is incredible. The score is mesmerizing and perfectly complements the visuals and tone of the film, with its strings and screechy sounds crossing into the realm of being sound effects at some points, and that's great because like the film, it brings together all senses and experiences into one odd package. Scarlett Johansson is intoxicating, doing so much with so little dialogue. She uses her eyes and facial expressions and callousness-turned-fake-charm so well, and you forget that you're watching an actress work because it's so immersive and shockingly realistic.
I can see why some people would dislike this film because it is very alienating (no pun intended) and probably as far from mainstream as you can get, but it's also so engrossing. This is a film that gives no explanations and doesn't really have much of a setup that leads into a conflict that sets the movie into action in a traditional sense. It works wonderfully because the movie itself feeds off of our abilities - as humans - to interpret emotions and read other individuals. The movie even seems to be watching you back at times.
Jonathan Glazer demonstrates that he has such a huge talent but also a great deal of discipline in order to make everything work. In the hands of another director, everything would have crumbled into pieces, but because it's so well-made, he makes connections between humanity and sexuality, objectification and death, and, to a certain extent, gender roles.
The ending (without spoiling anything) both satisfies and leaves ample room for interpretation, and is very affecting. There is a good amount of emotion to this film, and it's just so commendable that a film like this could be so human and realistic. I can definitely see the comparisons to Kubrick (my favorite director ever) and I could compare this film to Eraserhead and 2001: A Space Odyssey, and partially to Eyes Wide Shut.
This is a movie that I will never be able to forgot, and I know for a fact that I'll be thinking about it obsessively for a very long time. This may be one of my favorite films ever.
9.7/10, masterful, two thumbs up, miles above average, etc.… Expand
Apr 7, 2014A bonafide masterpiece, and I do not say such a thing lightly. The juxtaposition of Scarlett Johansson's haunting beauty and masterful performance in the titular role, set against the bleak Scottish landscape and the intolerable ease unto which she coaxes her prey, culminate in a film that chills to the absolute core. It's pacing deliberately ramps up the tension and this coupled with an unbearably horrifying score left me on an absolute knife edge. As many have stated, it is indebted to Roeg, Kubrick e.t.c. but not in an obvious postmodern, heart-on-sleeve approach; as much as it borrows Glazer innovates. It is shot beautifully, it's pacing is sheer frustrating perfection and it has seriously gotten under my skin. It's a long time since a film has effected me in such a way, and it has left me thinking about it for days and even now weeks after viewing. I, for one, consider this to be one of the best "science-fiction" films to have ever been produced. An agonising, terrifying but unmistakably beautiful film. Let me make this clear, this is a paradigm-shift for "science fiction" cinema. Brilliant filmmaking.… Expand
Under the Skin is, in short, a film that does just that: gets under one's skin, shining a light on what it means to be human -- even if what we end up seeing is something less than comforting.