Movie review: Under The Skin by Jonathan Glazer (based on a book by Michael Faber)

Cast

  • Scarlett Johansson (see the poster)
  • Jeremy McWilliams
  • Joe Szula
  • Michael Moreland
  • Dave Acton
  • Jessica Mance

Synopsis:

An alien girl called Scarlett (not her real name I am sure but, as she is never properly introduced to the viewer, let’s call her Scarlett, it suits her) is prowling Scotland at night, looking for single men without family or other commitments. She seduces them into following her to her lair where they disappear for good in a pool of strange, dark liquid. And got eaten (not a big spoiler).

Scarlett is obviously a member of a larger alien gang, including at least one male motorcycle racer, but, strangely enough, nobody else is helping her with the ‘hunting and gathering’ task. Is it a punishment assignment? Do those aliens think that only a pretty female might stand a chance (and if so why don’t they import more beauties) ? Why do they hunt males only and not, say, single women or elderly folk – wrong flavour? Why do they leave out completely the local gay community? Nobody knows or cares. Generally don’t hold your breath while waiting for any answers, this movie is not about answering your bathetic questions. It is about humanity, maybe even HUMANITY. Let me explain.

Our Scarlett is a kind of an alien slave worker. She has no free weekends, no holidays, she is not paid, she has no fun in life, no significant other is waiting with a cup of hot cocoa when she returns home. Overall nobody appreciates her efforts by saying ‘thank you’, ‘good job’ or at least ‘that last one was really scrumptious’. On the other hand her victims, smitten with her good looks (pfft), are strangely kind to her. In fact, when I come to think about it they behave like perfect gentlemen: no swearing, no stupid pick-up lines (see the pic), no sleazy jokes, no pawing or kissing without permit. Small wonder at some point Scarlett decides to switch sides and desert her band of cold-hearted aliens in favour of human warmth. How will it end? Not well.

My impressions:

How to make a cheap sci-fi movie with an pseudo-artistic slant? It’s easy – just follow those seven steps.

  • Step one: choose a nice location but not especially remote or exotic. Scotland will do.
  • Step two: star a well-known actress. Just one.
  • Step three: don’t bother with a captivating sound-track. Why? Duh, if the viewers want some nice music with the flick let them bring their freaking i-pads or i-phones or whatever i is trending nowadays and listen to that freaky Vangelis or any other classic film music composer.
  • Step four: pay attention, it’s where the tricky part starts. Don’t bother with an especially convoluted or intelligent screenplay and witty dialogues, nobody will appreciate them. Don’t even try to explain those pesky how’s and why’s – the audience will fill in the blanks pretty nicely because let’s face it, either they’ve seen it all or they are watching it just because your actress performs a strip-tease at some point. That’s why full-frontals (and backs) are not only very welcome but practically mandatory. Remember, some viewers will buy their cinema ticket or a dvd just to admire Scarlett’s…big, lovely eyes and full, red lips of course.
  • Step five: humanity has to win. We like admiring ourselves, we love feeling how great we are – most of us anyway. There are exceptions because there has to be a baddie in every movie but they don’t count. There is no bigger victory than persuading your enemies, aliens or not, that they want to be US pretty badly. And they can’t, ha, ha, suck on that you evil monsters.
  • Step six: sex draws attention and earns money big time; still don’t forget about featuring a bit of romance and cuddly kids. Your viewers, even those artistic types, might want to invite their girlfriends to the show, buy pop-corn and coke, turn it into a date – and you will earn double.
  • Step seven: if your movie is a bit dull, at least fill the time with some pseudo-artistic shots of snow, rain, sea waves, ants, trees – whatever the nature has to offer. I bet a critic or two will praise you for your effort. Hell, you might even win an award – nature is great in that way. Yeah, and those tits – they are so natural they somehow belong, don’t they? Believe it or not, critics love them too, just nobody wants to admit it openly.

Final verdict:

108 minutes of haunting boredom (with maybe one or two scenes being an exception) and yet Under the Skin is the ninth-highest-grossing film in the 2014 United States speciality box office. Didn’t I told ya the formula will work like wonder?

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6 Responses to Movie review: Under The Skin by Jonathan Glazer (based on a book by Michael Faber)

  1. heidenkind says:

    Weird. I’ve never even heard of this movie. It sounds like typical Hollywood shite, though.

    • No, not typical Hollywood shite. There’s a fair amount of European movie festivals’ shite mixed with that. It was released one year ago and our faithful Wikipedia informs that in the United States, it opened with $140,000 in four theatres, earning it the highest per-theatre average of all films playing that weekend, above Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which also stars Johansson. HAHAHAHAHA *evil laughter*

  2. blodeuedd says:

    Wow, I wanted to see this one but now when I know what it’s about, no thanks

  3. rameau says:

    There’s absolutely nothing in this film that interests me. Thank you for confirming my suspicions.

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