It’s not often that one watches a movie that abandons every convention that we’ve come to expect from cinema – Under the Skin is such a movie, and even though I do not feel as though I am equiped to review this film, I will try to give you all an idea about this film and why it is worthy of your attention.
A nameless woman probes the streets, abducting lonely strangers for her purposes, using her powers of attraction to lure them into her den. At least I believe that is the basis of the plot, it’s difficult to pinpoint it exactly as it all feels rather metaphorical.
Many will walk into this film expecting a sci-fi film, and many will walk out before the end, confused and ripped-off. This film is for a select few audience members, fans of art cinema, and David Lynch’s early work like Eraserhead. Be warned, if you buy a ticket for this film, do not expect genre conventions, storytelling conventions…actually forget about conventions of any kind.
The Bottom Line
It’s seldom that a film acts as a mirror into the audiences psyche – Under the Skin tells you little about itself and reveals more about the watcher. At the base level, it will tell you about your cinema sensibilities: one critic walked out of the preview cinema audaciously expressing his feelings of boredom and animosity towards the film, while others were left awestruck by the experience – nobody was entirely certain why they liked it, but it would be hard to deny that Under the Skin has a way of enticing the viewer to its mystery…if they viewer allows it.
What Under the Skin means to me will likely be different to what you or anyone else will gleen from its minimal story. In my interpretation, it’s about what it means to be human, how we ceaselessly pursue endeavours and never quite find the satisfaction that we desire, and then abandoning the desire altogether. The film is complex, cathartic, arresting, and absorbing; it may not have the typical building blocks of main stream cinema and elements such as a cohesive story, compelling characters, or even a discernible plot, but it is engrossing and genre defying – a testament to creativity and the power of film as an art form and not just a form of escapism.
Under the Skin defies any conventional rating system, the film is so subjective that what I absorb from the film will be different to everyone else, but at the very least, I can attest to its beauty, the uneasiness of the plot, and of course, to Scarlett Johansson’s powerful on-screen performance. Under the Skin is not a bad film, nor is it a good one, its sensibilities are not universal, but it is a landmark film and simply put, it’s a work of art that will leave you breathless, gob-smacked, and filled with questions – they may be about why you decided to sit through the whole thing, or on the meaning of life; the questions you are left with will tell the story of what kind of person you are, but one thing is for certain, it will get under your skin.