Friday, January 23, 2015

Mini movie review: Under the Skin

To say that the recent movie Under the Skin is based on Michel Faber's novel of the same name is not quite accurate; "very loosely based on" would be more accurate.  Scarlett Johansson drives around Glasgow, picking up men, finding out if there is anyone who will miss them and then taking them back to her place.  She is not quite human, ScarJo's character, and there are nefarious ends for the men she picks up.  (And that is where the "very loosely based on" changes to "a whole different story, really.")

Divergence from the source material aside, Under the Skin is a wonderful little genre movie, beautiful and slow and creepy.  There is hardly any dialogue.  The music is atonal and alien, as though filtered through the main character's not-quite-human senses.  There is very little plot, although there is a clear beginning, middle and end to the story.  It is tense in parts, melancholy in others, awful and squicky in a couple more.  It appears that Scotland is a very grey and rainy place. And yes, this is the movie where ScarJo goes completely bare nekkid.  It is unmomentous and not played for titillation.  She has a very real woman's body: beautiful, yes, but hardly unrealistic.  And the way she wears this body, carefully, awkwardly, as though it doesn't exactly fit, is part and parcel of this role.

With Les Revenants, this movie is the second bit of visual media that is classified as genre but doesn't line up exactly as horror/science fiction/fantasy.  You don't need to have read the original novel to enjoy the movie version of Under the Skin but it is my recommendation that you do both, since the two make good companions, different as they are.

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