Saturday, 3 January 2015

Under the Skin (4 Stars)

Scarlett Johansson is as cold as a Scottish winter. She seduces men and destroys them, ripping their bodies out of their skin.

The film is very difficult to understand. Since it's based on a novel with the same name written by Michael Faber I decided to read a summary of the book after I had watched the film. It seems that so much was omitted from the book that all that is left in the film is a collage of random scenes. I'm sure that this was deliberate. The book is the basis for the film, but the film goes in a different direction. The film is about the imagery, rather than the plot itself. For that reason I shan't attempt to describe what happens. Stylistically, it reminds me of Nicolas Roeg's films, in particular "The Man who fell to Earth".

In the novel the main female character is called Isserley, but in the film she remains unnamed, so I'll call her Scarlett. I feel that there's a message in the film that (probably) isn't part of the original novel. The film portrays in vivid details how shallow men are. They are fascinated by Scarlett's beauty, her face and her body, but they make no attempt to discover what she is like on the inside. They aren't even interested in finding out her name. Even as they begin to sink into destruction they can't help walking towards her, led on by their lusts.

Supposedly parts of the film were made without a script. Scarlett Johansson was filmed in public places where she spoke to men while the scenes being filmed with a hidden camera. It's not always apparent which scenes were scripted and which weren't. An audio commentary would be useful, but the Blu-ray I watched today didn't include one. Maybe there will be a fuller release in the future.

The film has received praise from critics, but it failed to break even at the box office. It was probably too abstract for the popcorn-munching public. I agree that it's not an easy film to watch, but I enjoyed it and shall certainly watch it again.

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