Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Under The Skin"

Jonathan Glazer’s “Under The Skin” is almost exactly like those experimental pieces from the 1970s, funded by the British Film Institute, which one reads about but no-one has ever actually seen – about an alien who assumes humanoid form in order to wander the Earth, experiencing what it is to be human. Except that the space-creature is played by a major Hollywood star, and there are some queasily eye-catching special effects.

Scarlet Johanssen is predictably magnetic as the sexy visitor, driving around Glasgow, picking up unsuspecting lone males and luring them to a bizarre fate, in what is apparently a loose adaptation of Michael Faber’s novel (see the April 2014 issue of Sight And Sound for a fascinating feature piece, which also elucidates the improvisatory nature of some of the encounters). Just when it looks as though things are starting to get predictable, the narrative (such as it is) takes a turn, we find ourselves in the Scottish countryside, and the previously self-assured alien grows steadily unhappier.

The pace is somewhat leisurely, and no context or explanation is given. The visuals are impressively murky, as is Mica Levi’s discordant orchestral score. One suspects that the whole thing will lose much of its allure on the small screen, but it’s certainly a bold, haunting, trippy adventure.

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