Under the skin was co-written and directed by Jonathan Glazer in 2013. The film was based on Michel Faber’s novel of the same name and follows an alien life form (played by Scarlett Johansson) disguised as a beautiful woman. On the surface she looks like a normal woman, but inside she is a deadly predator. She attracts men with her sexuality only to capture and kill them slowly. She is entrusted with an unknown task and has obviously been sent here from another planet to prey on men.
Under the skin is fantastic for several reasons. It’s a very original sci-fi film and Johansson delivers a subtle but very effective performance. Additionally, Glazer’s film is creepy from start to finish. At the same time, it has many underlying and challenging themes. It also has a creepy score throughout the film. by Mica Levi. Globally, Under the skin was critically acclaimed and received several awards. That said, it wasn’t a box office success and only made around $7 million. Despite that, it’s still an incredible movie, and one of Scarlett Johansson’s best. Here’s why.
Scarlett Johansson’s performances
Johansson gives one of his finest performances of his career in Under the skin. What’s so impressive about her performance is that she rarely speaks throughout the film. She expresses her emotions, or lack thereof, solely through her looks and behavior. Johansson gives a chilling performance as an unsympathetic human serial killer. It’s not an easy task for an actor to play the role of an alien, but Johansson does it with ease. She also brilliantly conveys the confusion her character feels with her own identity. We rarely see Johansson take on roles like this, so it was refreshing to see her play a darker character, one that she totally nailed.
The visual effects in Under the skin are at the top. The scenes where Johansson’s character brings his prey for execution are eerie and terrifying. We watch as its prey follows it, only to be swallowed up by a mysterious liquid. With one of his victims, we see the process in which he is “digested”. Then we see a jet of red liquid that is possibly the remains of his victims traveling to an unknown location. At the same time, when Johansson’s character sheds his human flesh, we see a large, unsettling and unique CGI alien. Overall, the special effects were effective from start to finish. The film is artistic and the visual effects are filled with distinct colors representing the overall tone of the film.
The underlying themes
Although there is limited dialogue throughout Under the skin, there are several themes expressed throughout. One of the major themes is self-identity. Johansson’s character begins to have an identity crisis when she strikes up a somewhat romantic relationship with a human. She begins to feel bad about herself and very confused. It can be related to many topics such as gender identity. Another theme expressed throughout the film is captivity. At one point is a shot of a fly trapped in a window frame, possibly representing its victims. There are also many themes around the sexualization of women, leading to violence. In this film however, the roles are reversed, and it is the character of Johansson who is the most dangerous.
The destabilizing tone and atmosphere
One of the reasons why Under the skin It’s such an effective movie, it’s creepy from start to finish. The film also has a spine-chilling brilliant score. At many points, the film and character interactions feel so real, it’s like watching a documentary. Indeed, according to Timethe men Johansson’s character meets on the street are real people: in full costume, Johansson drove a van through the streets of Scotland, dressed as a big character, and stopped to talk to real people.
Indeed, Johannson is at the center of the film and her character is strange every minute she spends on screen. This is by no means an uplifting film. He exudes feelings of dread and despair in almost every image. The camerawork, cinematography and score come together to create a disturbing film that is utterly unique. One of the main troubling aspects of the film is the lack of dialogue. The ensuing silence adds creepiness, making for a chilling sci-fi movie.
At the end of the day, Under the skin was a very original piece of science fiction. He tells his story through the eyes of an alien life form that was sent to earth to kill human men. Johansson is the center of genius and has proven, once again, his acting abilities. It’s not a once and for all uplifting film, but it’s hugely empowering and certainly worth watching. Glazer made a very effective sci-fi film with its characters and its question of what it means to be human as a goal.