ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

New Review: Under the Skin (2014)

Updated on July 16, 2014

Director: Jonathan Glazer
Cast: Scarlett Johansson


With every movie I write about, I try to take notes. I don't get to for every movie I see, but when I do, it makes the process of writing about it fast and easy. I started taking notes while watching Under the Skin, but about forty minutes into the movie, I stopped. It just isn't easy taking notes on a movie like this. Under the Skin doesn't have much of a story, and character development is virtually non-existent, but I'm thinking that may have been the point. The movie is mostly about atmosphere and mood, and about eliciting an emotional response from the audience, which is does quite often.

The movie opens up with the formation of a human eyeball. We're then introduced to Scarlett Johansson, an unnamed alien being who's standing in the middle of a bright white room, and then proceeds to undress a dead woman and put on her clothes. She then hops into a van, and drives through the streets of a grim looking city in Scotland, looking for men who are single and have no family who'll miss them. She drives them to her place, where she seduces them in a pitch black lair, and lures them to their deaths as the floor turns into a thick black liquid and swallows them up.

These scenes are eerie and unsettling, but it's the scenes between Johansson and the men which are the most fascinating. It is said that director Jonathan Glazer used hidden cameras to film the scenes, and the men were actually locals who had no idea they were being filmed. There's no acting and no scripted dialogue, which gives at least those parts of the movie an incredible sense of authenticity. There comes a moment where Johansson picks up a man who suffers from a facial neurofibromatosis disfigurement, and instead of relying on make-up effects and prosthetics, Glazer contacted the charity Changing Faces (which supports people with that condition) to cast Adam Pearson, a man who suffers from the condition and who's very good here, in the role.

The man with the disfigurement inspires a sense of pity within her, and she decides to let him live. There's a man on a motorcycle who seems to be cleaning up after Johansson. He finishes the young man off, and Johansson goes on the run. She eventually meets a friendly man on a bus and stays with him for a few days. Afterwards, she heads off into the woods, where she runs into a man who attempts to rape her. What happens after that, I will leave for you to discover for yourself.

I would not go with a woman to a house like that (unless the woman inviting me was Elizabeth Olsen, te-he! :P)
I would not go with a woman to a house like that (unless the woman inviting me was Elizabeth Olsen, te-he! :P)

In terms of narrative, Under the Skin is a mess. We never learn why Johansson's character is luring men to their deaths, or what her relationship is with the man on the motorcycle. There is very little dialogue in the movie, and there are many shots that seem inspired by something someone would experience while tripping out on acid. The movie certainly isn't for all tastes, and will leave a number of viewers confused and frustrated.

For all others, this is a hypnotic and oddly engaging movie. As an exercise in atmosphere, the movie is sublime. The cinematography by Daniel Landin is exquisitely done, and the creepy and discordant musical score by Mica Levi certainly succeeds in getting under one's skin. There are moments in the movie that are hauntingly effective, such as the scene at a beach where a little infant boy is left alone after his parents drown in the ocean (the man on the motorcycle cleans up the scene at the beach later that evening, and leaves the poor child alone as the tide comes toward him).

Then, there's Scarlett Johansson, who turns in a quiet yet expressive performance as the unnamed alien. She keeps the audiences enthralled, even when we're left wondering why she's doing the things that she does in the first hour. There comes a point when her character eventually grows empathetic toward human beings, and she tries becoming more like them, first by eating a chocolate cake, then by interacting with the friendly man she met on the bus. She even becomes curious about her own skin, which leads to a beautiful scene where she stands fully nude in front of a mirror, and regards her body with curiosity and fascination.

Beautiful, but very deadly!
Beautiful, but very deadly!

So what does it all add up to in the end? I'm not entirely sure. It could be something profound, or it could be nothing at all. Maybe those who've read Michel Faber's novel (on which this movie is based) will be able to understand it better than those who haven't. Whatever the case may be, Under the Skin got to me in much the same way that 2012's Beyond the Black Rainbow did: It's weird and confusing and often times frustrating, but it does cast a spell, and it stays with you long after the end credits roll.

Rated R for graphic nudity, some strong sexual content, violence, some profanity

Final Grade: *** (out of ****)

What did you think of this movie? :)

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Under the Skin (2014)

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • priley84 profile imageAUTHOR

      priley84 

      3 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      Thank you good sir, and thanks for reading. :)

    • johndwilliams profile image

      johndwilliams 

      3 years ago from Essex England

      A great Hub and a Great Movie - really enjoyed it's dark mood and unsettling themes - great use of sound too!

      A good solid intelligent hub!

    • priley84 profile imageAUTHOR

      priley84 

      4 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      Thank you Ms. Dora! And God bless! :D :D :D

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great review! You include your own emotions which give a clue as to how others would respond. Good knowing about the movie. That's all, thanks to you.

    • priley84 profile imageAUTHOR

      priley84 

      4 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      No probs! Thanks for reading! :D

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 

      4 years ago from Australia

      I love a thought provoking movies so i will be sure to check it out... thanks for the review

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)