Starring: Scarlett Johansson
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Running time: 108 minutes
Screenplay: Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer
Available on digital platforms on July 7th and on Blu-ray & DVD on 14th July, 2014
UNDER THE SKIN arrives on digital platforms on July 7th and on Blu-ray™ and DVD on 14th July 2014.
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth), UNDER THE SKIN features an absolutely mesmerising performance from Scarlett Johansson (Her, Don Jon) as a seductive alien preying upon hitchhikers in Scotland.
Tinged with unnerving mysticism, UNDER THE SKIN has been touted as a masterpiece by many such as professional film reviewers Danny Leigh (Film 2014), Robbie Collin (Daily Telegraph) and Kevin Harley (Total Film). But as film reviewing is all about personal opinions here is mine…
An alien woman, driving a Transit van, stalks men in the dreary Scottish city of Glasgow to lure them into a nameless black goo for unknown reasons.
Scarlett Johansson produces an excellent performance in a frankly thankless role. Her character is an indistinct alien that happens to be in Glasgow and the Highlands of Scot-land, hunting men for an unknown reason.
Johannson's depiction of an alien is convincing, she is plain yet beautiful, powerful and strong, yet fragile and vulnerable. Her performance is faultless in a difficult role that re-quires her to be nude and to be in a challenging scene of her character being sexually assaulted. These scenes are doubtless extremely difficult to commit to and to act for Johansson and indeed all involved. And difficult for viewers to watch. I don't personally see the appeal of these types of roles to actors or actresses but Johansson commits fully and without reservation.
Johansson's move into more difficult films with bigger, stranger, less mainstream themes is clearly a part of her conscious decision to make different types of movies to that to which she has been involved with before. But I think this is a step too far.
The direction is almost non-existent but as the characters do so little, a director would seem to be superfluous to the film anyway. The writers and director deserve little or no credit at all for creating this confusing, meandering, directionless film that could have been so much more than it was. Themes that could have been interesting are under examined and other questions are left completely unanswered. In fact this film seems to revel in asking questions and answering none.
The DVD extras hint at themes and plot lines that were written in earlier drafts of the screenplay but then discarded or simply not filmed resulting in a film that gives the audi-ence very little to think about or enjoy despite what the filmmakers might think to the con-trary.
Performances from some non professional actors are passable but nothing more and if you're not Scottish or very familiar with the accent you may as well select the English subtitles right from the beginning.
Johansson is clearly the star, with the star wattage to match and talent to burn, but her talents, beauty and time have been wasted here. She is the absolute best thing in an otherwise terrible movie.
The end is downbeat but as we have no real idea of what has been happening for the preceding 105 minutes it doesn't make much difference.
Under The Skin is repetitive, slow-paced and lacks a strong narrative drive. As a result it's confusing and disappointing in almost every way.