Film Screening 21st August, 2014

Poster for Under The Skin

Under The Skin 

7:30 PM, 21st August, 2014

  • MA
  • 108 mins
  • 2013
  • Jonathan Glazer
  • Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer
  • Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay, Dougie McConnell

‘Hot alien babe lures men to their doom’ probably makes you think of B-grade schlock like Species (1995). This film manages to make the idea highbrow.

We begin just as an alien is putting the finishing touches on her Scarlett Johansson-like disguise, and watch her cruising the streets of Glasgow in a large van, stopping to ask males for directions – her questions really being code for: ‘Will anyone notice if you suddenly go missing?’ If the answer is no, she takes them into her den – where we get one of the film’s great visual strengths: doom-seduction scenes that are genuinely eerie, elliptical, and not at all what you’d expect; I’d love to describe them, but best not to spoil the surprise.

Some say this is Johansson’s best performance. Maybe it is, although I think it’s a close call (she’s always been magnificent; it’s just that some of us – not me – were slow to realise this).

We see early on that this fluent, assured siren is easily thrown by minor disturbances. After she lets one of her prey escape, she gradually becomes more taciturn, uncertain, and vulnerable – as though she can function wonderfully with her how-to-seduce-humans script but is lost without it. She starts to withdraw, and explore the strange world, and the strange skin, she has been placed in.

The film is so good I really wish it had been given a different ending. But you’ll have to watch it to see what I might mean.

Henry Fitzgerald