Review: UNDER THE SKIN

By Darin Skaggs

Film is an unique art form.  You can edit scenes together, add sounds that all culminate in a certain feeling of emotions that can’t be felt in any other format.  In Johnathon Glazer’s Under The Skin, he uses these tactics and creates one of the most emotional and effective films of the year.

Under The Skin tells the tale of a mysterious being in the form of Scarlett Johansson, in one of the best performances of the year, that lures men into her van and traps them in black goo.  She does not use money or violent force, she uses sex.  She compliments the men’s looks and flaunts hers to get them to come into her home where they are trapped in black goo, where any number of things could be happening.

This film is not concerned with solving your mysteries or telling you plot points.  These men are sunk into the black goo and there are very little hints of why these men are being trapped.  The film gives off vibes that Johansson is an alien, but it never really says.  It is not concerned with these facts because it has more to say then what is happening factually on screen.  It wants to explore the male gaze and the sexual awakenings and nightmares of being a woman.  She starts as just letting the men admire her body but never giving them what they want.  About half way through the film there is a change and this being starts to get curious which leads to some beautiful and haunting moments.

The film works on a visual level with beautiful sets and visual effects.  It also has some great sound effects and the score is striking.  As technical effects go, this is a masterpiece.  It uses all the unique aspects of film; the score, acting, sound mixing and editing, subtle writing, to make you feel the emotions.  It lets you react to the moments not because you are told to feel something or that a character is feeling something, it is all the surreal magic that film can bring.

Scarlett gives one of the greatest performances of the year and of her career.  She plays this strange being again never saying what she is feeling or thinking.  All she has to work with is the subtle script and the minute emotions on her face.  The film is unique and strange in the best way possible.  It chooses to take everything about film, except dialogue, and make it just as emotional as any film with people procliaming what they are feeling.

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