Film of the Day (02/28/19): Under the Skin


Written By Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer
Directed By Jonathan Glazer

I’m not precisely sure what i just saw, but I know it was pretty damn good, in an extremely uncomfortable way. As a big fan of sci-fi and the generally weird, this was a great choice to knock off my Netflix queue. It is arty nearly to a fault (in some ways I was reminded of The Neon Demon), with a wealth of themes that can be discussed at long length. How humans interpret and define beauty, gender roles, the manner in which we can fear and distrust our own bodies, human behavioral complexity and the nature of sex are all dissected, whether on the surface or underneath it. There is so much to unpack that I’m going to leave it alone, because this is the kind of film open to interpretation and would be  better done in person, so let’s focus on the elements of the film’s execution. The word that comes to mind most is striking, from both a visual and aural perspective. The cinematography from Daniel Landin strikes you with repeated, powerful imagery that contains all the subtlety of a Donald Trump press conference. There were shots that absolutely left me in awe, with the confusion over what I was watching buried under a level of sheer admiration. Mica Levi provides a hunting, eerie score that strikes you like a barbed wire bat that someone has wrapped in velvet to attempt to soften the blow. Everything is jarring and unnerving, and intentionally so. On an animalistic level, you’re watching a movie where the gorgeous lead actress is fully nude quite often, but it is such an uncomfortable watch that much of the sexiness is stripped away (no pun intended). Most of all, I applaud Scarlett Johansson for making such a bold film choice. For someone on her level (especially being such a major part of the MCU), taking a part like this could have really worked against her, but she came out of it looking confident and self-assured. This is the kind of film that I know will grow on me even more with multiple viewings, as squirm-inducing as it often was.

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