Under the Skin : Movie Review

Under the Skin (2013) - Movie PosterSometimes, when a motion picture is so extraordinarily transcendent that it single-handedly redefines the auspicious capabilities of the filmic form, the English language—or, really, any language—seems almost too quaint to do its achievements justice. Written and directed by Jonathan Glazer (2004's "Birth") with an auteur's eye for the hauntingly wondrous and sublime, "Under the Skin" astonishes and provokes from frame one, pitch darkness giving way to a pinhole of illumination that moves ever closer to the camera before finally casting a nakedly exposing light onto the audience. In this moment, much like the big bang itself, a strange and strikingly elusive young woman (Scarlett Johansson) is born anew. The world she steps foot onto is Earth, and more specifically the rocky, untamed Scottish Highlands, but in many respects the surroundings appear to the viewer as mesmerizingly, ominously alien as they are to her. What she does next, and where her ultimate terrifying fate and circumstances lead her, will confound, exhilarate, challenge, and cumulatively devastate. At the risk of classifying a work so thrillingly unclassifiable in its unrivaled vision, "Under the Skin" is an instantaneously quintessential 21st-century masterpiece in science-fiction and horror.

A motorcyclist (Jeremy McWilliams) zooms down a desolate mountain road, stopping along the edge of a ravine to carry the lifeless body of a woman to a van parked on the shoulder. Inside, an unnamed being with a curvaceous physique, full red lips and a black shag of hair disrobes the unfortunate lady and puts on her clothes. She stops long enough to inspect an ant scurrying on the corpse, then is on her way. At once enticing and curious, she drives to Glasgow, shops for a new wardrobe, and begins eavesdropping on the sea of humanity swarming through the streets. She proceeds to methodically search for men to pick up, using a newfound sexuality she is aware of but does not quite understand to lure them back to her cottage, her latest prey in an unfathomable, liquefied spider-web. When she meets a facially deformed man (Adam Pearson) with "beautiful hands," as she calls them, he is the catalyst that leads her to feel something she has never felt before. Her desire to be like the people around her, the ones who can experience normal earthly relationships or think nothing of going into a sleepy diner to gobble up a slice of chocolate cake, is hopeless. She doesn't belong, never will, and before long the baffling evils of the planet will engulf her.

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Author : Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com.