Under the Skin (2013)
Director: Jonathan Glazer
After I finished watching Under the Skin several thoughts were floating around in my mind; one of them was that there was no one from my family, friends or acquaintances that I would think of recommending this to. Not because I hated this; far from it. Rather, it is such a strange, utterly unmainstream film that I don't know anyone who wouldn't watch this, and then think 'what the *expletive* was that, and why did you make me watch it?' So, other than getting new friends, I am going to share my thoughts with you.
I would not say I enjoyed this film, for the film doesn't set out to be enjoyable or entertaining. But I was deeply effected by it; it made (and continues to make) me think, and to marvel. I haven't had this type of reaction to a film since I saw 2001. I did not feel empathy for the characters, but I was intrigued and beguiled by what I saw. And, just like 2001, I was left to figure things out for myself, to bring my own ideas to what was presented.
What did I see? I could write pages and pages about this film (but I won't). The images of human bodies are haunting. They are not erotic, though naked, but are presented as strange objects to live in. Scarlett Johansson's performance is powerful for its blankness; the fall of her face as she moves from engaging with people to watching them is compelling. The music adds much to the atmosphere, its strings straining and the drum beats recalling heart beats, or a ticking clock. The use of costume and location is masterful, portraying the evolution of Johansson's character.
The film is not perfect, but the problems didn't niggle at me. For others, however, I can imagine they would. Indeed, as I said at the start of this piece, this is not a film for everyone. My reaction is on the highly positive end, yet I can completely understand someone watching it and hating it with a passion. Watch it, knowing that you will have a strong reaction to Glazer's film.
(On a sidenote, if you want a truly mind-bending experience, watch this in double bill with Shane Carruth's Upstream Color. Would make Inception seem positively comprehensible).