Under the Skin (Glazer, 2013)

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)

But Saul […] went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?  –Acts 9:1-5

What an odd and enchanting story. My soft spot for sci-fi is showing here and the blend of science fiction elements with art house technical and emotional presentation makes for an eerie and poignant experience. Johansson is fantastic in her nearly silent role – flirtatious to lure men into her lair, seductive to keep them engrossed, impassive after leading them to their end. And her emotional awakening to compassion and love is a beautifully quiet set of events culminated by an oddly tragic ending. And while you can truly sense her soaking in of the world around her like you can in no other alien movie, the most impressive aspect of this entire experience was the technical clinic Glazer puts on. Part shaky cam, tight framed, soft lit intimate cinematography; part boldly drastic, semi-surreal, high energy rush of visual and aural aesthetic. Highlighted by shocking trap Johansson sets for her victims – the mysterious black room, the way to men emotionlessly sink into the floor, the hypnotic pulsating music – a grandiose technical bravado. One of the most interesting films of the year, no doubt, and one that lingers in the mind long after.  8.5/10

under the skin

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