14/03/2014

Under The Skin


It's pretty much a given that when you tell someone you've seen a film they'll ask if you liked it or not but with a film like Under The Skin, that question just isn't sufficient. I wouldn't say I liked it mainly because I don't like being on edge for 107 minutes and listening to the world's freakiest film score. Seriously, I never want to hear that score again. But even though I can't say I liked it, I was certainly transfixed, immersed and thoroughly gripped by Jonathan Glazer's loose adaptation of Michel Faber's 2000 novel of the same name.

After being put together in a disturbing opening sequence and stealing clothes off a woman's lifeless body, an alien disguised as a woman enters the world via a Glaswegian shopping centre for reasons unknown. She may have only been a woman for about 10 minutes but she quickly picks up a trashy faux fur jacket from Warehouse (Watching Scarlett Johansson peruse the rails in Warehouse will never stop being hilarious to me.) and some Clinique, and is ready to go on the prowl. Long periods of the film are made up of secret camera footage of ScarJo preying upon men in a white van which should be boring as hell but it's oddly gripping. Most of that is not only down to Scarlett Johansson's most interesting performance but Micachu's soundtrack; film students will be studying it until the end of time because it so perfectly demonstrates how an effective score can shape the film and the entire experience. Brilliant it may be, but prepare to have your skin crawling long after the film ends.

It's rather wonderful that so little attention has been paid to ScarJo's nudity because she's doing a hell of a lot more than getting her kit off. Her casting was a stroke of genius because most men would quite like to get picked up by someone who looks like her and to see things go so spectacularly awry for the horny buggars may make some men think twice about returning to a woman's derelict home for a bit of How's Your Father? I've never particularly rated her acting talents but this coupled with her strong supporting performance in the underwhelming Don Jon shows she means business.

Many questions swirled my head as I left the screening room because the film makes no attempt to explain anything. Why is she doing this? Why does the floor turn into that weird black shit? Why does she have an English accent? How can she understand the Scottish accent after being on earth for a few days while I've lived in the UK all my life and need subtitles? And lastly, why are Glaswegian men so grey? They're obviously not using the beauty products flogged by their countryman Gerard Butler.

As freaky as she and her shenanigans are there is a scene so upsetting I wanted to jump into the screen and do something. I won't say what because that would ruin it for you, but when it happens you'll know. It needs a few years to breathe before it can truly be classed as a masterpiece but I do understand why some people are going crazy over it because it's a truly unique, sensory experience. I didn't like it, but I can't forget it either.