ByJohn McGinn, writer at
John McGinn

(Originally posted on April 16, 2014 on

What the hell did I just watch? That was the first thoughts that passed through my mind as I left the theater after watching Jonathan Glazer's sci-fi film Under the Skin. Many thoughts and emotions passed through my mind while I watched Under the Skin that include wonder, frustration, hate, love, what am I watching, what is the reason why Glazer added that to the film, why, and many other thoughts and emotions, and I can understand why there is such a divided opinion over the film between the top critics along with the general audience. Under the Skin is one of those films that I believe people will either hate or love, and after thinking about the film for nearly a week weighing the negative against the positive I am in the latter category in that I have ended up loving Under the Skin as it is perhaps the most original film I have seen in decades.

What is there to say about the plot as there isn't much of one. The film follows two unnamed creatures that I believe are aliens in Scarlett Johansson and a guy riding a motorcycle who for some reason is following the unnamed woman around. The film follows Johansson's character as she travels around Scotland luring men into her truck, and taking them to a secluded location where they are trapped and I guess processed for some unknown reason that the film never explains. Through her journey Johansson's unknown women finds humanity especially after she picks up a disfigured man that she ends up letting go that leads to a heart wrenching yet terrifying climax.

The plot written by Jonathan Glazer and Walter Campbell is at times absolutely brilliant as is with a scene by the Scottish Coast where Johansson meets a surfer and in the background a family is playing in the ocean that leads to a terrifying conclusion, but at other times doesn't make a lick of sense like the other alien creature riding the motorcycle. I still don't know what the purpose was for the guy. The character wasn't really needed in the film who just seemed to follow his fellow unnamed alien around cleaning up messes that weren't really necessary, especially since Johansson's alien was the most important aspect of the film. There was also the passing of the film that was at times dull, but the positive far outweighs the negative as Glazer's script and film is the most original film I have seen since the likes of Looper and Inception, and perhaps the most original film I have seen in over a decade as Under the Skin delves into what it means to be human, the human identity and what it means as well as loneliness and love. Along with Glazers frustrating yet brilliant script the director smartly uses visuals as well as the gorgeous beauty of Scotland to bring meaning and life to his original film and along with the eerie and dark score by Mica Levi would make Under the Skin one of the best films of the year, but I haven't gotten to brilliant star in Scarlett Johansson. Johansson deserves a lot of credit for taking on a daring role where she has perform fully nude for a few scenes yet the actress gives subtle and brilliant performance with limited dialogue relying more on body language and facial expressions for her performance making Under the Skin one of the most original, unique and best films I have seen this year and in years.

I know some will absolutely love Under the Skin while others will hate it, and I wish I could go into more detail about the film, but you have to experience the weirdness and beauty of the film that make Under the Skin a film that shouldn't be missed. That along with a slightly flawed script and methodical pacing, some really good visuals, and absolutely beautiful cinematography along with a great score and a brilliant performance by the gorgeous and Oscar worthy actress in Scarlett Johansson make Under the Skin a must see film in 2014. Watching Under the Skin audiences may love the film or not, and they may not understand what they are seeing or the themes of the film, but I can guarantee viewers of Under the Skin will have seen nothing like what they have watched in Under the Skin before.


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