thu 18/07/2024

LFF 2013: Under the Skin | reviews, news & interviews

LFF 2013: Under the Skin

LFF 2013: Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer returns with a scintillatingly strange adaptation of Michel Faber's novel

Not your average white van man: Scarlett Johansson is on the prowl in 'Under the Skin'

It's been nine years since Jonathan Glazer's last film, the courageous and underrated Birth. If that film had its moments of audacity then Under the Skin - an adaptation of Michel Faber's gloriously revolting novel - is a real feast of filmmaking flair, which elevates its director to the rank of auteur. Glazer resists the book's explanations, and ultimately its message, in favour of something more intriguing and unsettlingly ambiguous.

At the centre of this cinematic cyclone is Scarlett Johansson, who's not only got the requisite visual va-va-voom but who turns in a performance up there with her sublimely subtle best.

The title of Glazer's debut feature Sexy Beast might well be applied to the protagonist of his latest: she's an alien predator in glamorous, femme fatale form (fake fur coat, soft black bob, coral lips locked in a potent pout) shown combing Glasgow and the Scottish Highlands for men. Her reason for doing this is best left to a series of astonishing reveals. Her vehicle of choice: an almost comically anomalous white van.

Under the Skin skilfully marries realism (achieved by sending the "disguised" Johansson out to interact with unsuspecting members of the public) with visuals unlike anything you've ever seen, and it even throws some gallows humour successfully into the mix. There's no doubt that we're viewing events through alien eyes as Glazer keeps us closely aligned to her sometimes curious, sometimes chillingly detached perspective. All shades of humanity are presented here: courage, kindness, desire, gluttony and, ultimately, the desire to possess, hurt one another and destroy. Under the Skin is aesthetically and aurally out of this world - so beautifully daring it makes most other films look very plain indeed.

Follow @EmmaSimmonds on Twitter

Under the Skin is aesthetically and aurally out of this world


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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