Under the Skin: A Chilling, Alternative, Yet Captivating Adaptation

Under the Skin


Jonathan Glazer is back with a feature film, after a long time of absence. This time with an adaptation of Michel Faber’s book of the same title, it tells the story of a beautiful, yet strange women who lures men into her lair, while getting acquainted with her own humanity.

The director, mostly known for his work on Sexy Beast and Birth decided long time ago to adapt the book and was working on the script for the better of a decade. What he delivers is a stripped to the bare bone version. His lead on the directorial side is strikingly influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s work, with the opening of the film reminiscent of the late director’s work on the iconic science fiction film “2001: Space Odyssey”. Glazer uses over and underexposure, flares, lengthy shots and the beautiful landscapes of the Scottish Highlands to portray a world alien to the lead character. Yet, his most compelling approach to the film was the candidness of Scarlett Johansson’s travails in the Glaswegian streets, with hidden cameras capturing everyday people, strangers lured by the actress’s beauty and seduction.

The music is complimentary to the film narration, since the lack of significant dialogue (in fact, there is next to none) is quite impactful to the storytelling. Mica Levi experiments with familiar and abnormal sounds to deliver a creepy soundtrack to an already peculiar adaptation.

Scarlett Johansson, the lead and one of the few actual actors of the film, shines in this film and gives a unique performance. One would expect of a Hollywood bred and fed actress to undermine or deteriorate an already odd film, yet her silence is as revealing as her nude scenes, which as frequent as they are, are also aesthetically correspondent to Glazer’s work.

It was definitely a different film to watch and not everyone will love it. In fact, my friend who I watched it with, wasn’t even sure if she liked it or not. And let me tell you. A few years ago I wouldn’t even have made it half-way through the film, before deeming it unwatchable, but seeing this film with my new-born directorial eyes it is a film I aspire to. Do not let the fact that it is based on a book keep you from watching it. With so many bad adaptations it is understandable, however Glazer’s vision sets him apart from all the rest and managed to create a film not for the mindless masses, but for the few and stoic. ┬áDo not expect a joyful, hour and a half of a ride, but a disturbing journey into the human psyche and images that will stay with you for a long time.

Rhys out xXx

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