Under the Skin

An alien has come down to the earth to feed on the insides of men, it takes up the form of Scarlett Johansson in order to lure them into a trap. However when faced with genuine human kindness, she begins to question who she really is.

This is one of those movies where, no matter what words I use I will never truly sell it well enough. It is a masterpiece. Every aspect is a work of art. And what I’m going to try and do now is to take some highlights from a list of perfect features in this film.

First of all the soundtrack is absolutely jaw-dropping. One of those seamless melds of sound effect and music, leaving you completely disorientated and immersed. I’ve not really heard anything like it, but if I had to make a comparison I suppose I would use Channel fours’ brilliant crime drama series Utopia. Honestly I cannot think of a soundtrack that would deserve an award more. Of course it won’t get one, because it wasn’t released in December /January, and it’s a little too non-mainstream for the Oscars. Let’s just hope Mica Levi wins the Kermode award.

Visually it genuinely resembles a piece of art. Whether it be the beautiful Scottish landscapes or the mind-bending special effects sequences that arrive after Scarlett has lured in her men. The cinematography here is quite brilliant, and because it isn’t a “mainstream” movie it isn’t afraid to take a little longer than most films would on sweeping landscape shots, while a car or a person travels across the screen. Those shots are some of my favourites in any movie, and here there are executed flawlessly.

Scarlett Johansson is superb, and I reckon this is probably her best performance ever. And you completely believe that she is an alien discovering what it is to be human, mostly without the aid of dialogue. As really throughout the film the only exchanges are quite early on when she is luring in the men of Glasgow with her charm. So she has to movie an entire film along essentially by herself, without words. And she does this beautifully. Also a word on the supporting cast, who are mostly made up from unsuspecting Glaswegian men, but those that aren’t innocent bystanders blend in so seamlessly that it is impossible to tell who is an actor, and who isn’t.

Overall, this is one of those movies that shows you what you can do with film. It’s just a shame it’s not what most people end up doing, because it’s near perfect.



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