17 jul. 2014

My Review: Under the Skin (4/10)

"Do you live alone?"

Jonathan Glazer's latest film has received much praise from critics and film lovers alike for it's artistic, minimalist, and experimental style. It's a surreal film that never feels pretentious. Under the Skin says a lot (almost entirely through imagery) about beauty and seduction and how it is perceived differently by men and women. Scarlett Johansson gives a powerful performance, but somehow the imagery didn't stick with me as it did with most audiences. I enjoyed the first 20 minutes of the film and I was creeped out with the direction it was heading as Johansson's character seduced and lured men into her van, but after she experiences a sort of inner struggle concerning who she is, I felt the film went downhill from there and lost my interest. There are many interpretations as to what each scene means and that is where Glazer succeeds considering his film has affected many viewers, but it really didn't do anything for me. The final hour of the film dragged and I felt emotionally detached despite the fine performance from Johansson and the eerie score that played a big role in setting up the  unique atmosphere of the film. I don't want to go into details because the less you know about this film the more unique of an experience you will have. Under the Skin will be on many critics top 10 list by the end of the year, and I can understand why, but it simply didn't work for me and I can't force myself to enjoy this or give it another watch. The images didn't seem to haunt me in the same way the score did. But by all means don't listen to me because you may have a completely different experience with this unique film.

I went into this film with very high expectations despite never having seen a film from Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast and Birth) because I had read a lot of positive things about it. Perhaps having seen this right after the epic martial-arts action film, The Raid 2, affected my overall experience considering it is much slower in pace. Under the Skin is more about the shocking imagery and the underlying message behind each scene rather than focusing on a traditional narrative structure. Although you may not know it, this film has more in common with Borat than what you would think. It is experimental in the sense that Glazer and the producers placed hidden cameras in the van while Johansson tried to seduce and lure men into her van without them knowing it. The experiment payed off well because these were the most interesting scenes in the film, but it wasn't cohesive enough with the other controlled aspects of the film. There is just something strange about this film that didn't really work for me. I just felt alienated and didn't care much for the direction it was heading and it never got under my skin the way it has most of the people I've spoken with about it.


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