Under the Skin (2013)… Scarlet, Scotland and nothing else you’d expect

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Under the Skin

My rating: 9

IMDB rating: 7.4

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1441395/?ref_=ttmd_md_nm

Dearest reader,

I live in a very, if not the most, conservative part of South Africa. Showing this film at our local cinema must have been a great risk for the cinema. Starting out with about fifteen people in the cinema, halfway through we were only seven and only five brave candidates stuck with this movie to the end. The slow-moving story, inexplicable actions, nudity and intense face studies must have been more than any sturdy South African could face.

-But me and my two best friend…. we absolutely loved it!-

The biggest controversy (I am not sure if this is the right word, maybe attraction?) surrounding this film was the fact that we were going to see Johansson just as she was, unedited and nude, she was going to be 100% real and in that regard they certainly did not disappoint. It was truly an experience seeing an actress of her caliber willing to appear in such an unforgiving light.

The other thing that sets this movie apart from everything you have ever seen is the fact that Johansson literally went out on the streets and picked up men. The men that you see in this film is not an actor, but someone like you and me.

I will now give you my interpretation of this film, and I welcome any debate as this is only my opinion… (SPOILERS AHEAD)

This film is, of course, part of the monstrous feminine literature. And when the movie starts, this is emphasized over and over again. She feeds on these men in a very passive manner, almost ‘re-forming’ them for her nourishment.

As a ‘machine’ or an ‘alien’, she has no remorse about her actions (look out for a very disturbing scene involving a baby and a beach). She uses sex to lure these men, although she has no idea what sex is. When she picks up the deformed man, she transcends this alien state and lets him escape.

What follows is a series of events that lead to her ‘humanisation’. For the first time, she is cold and she needs to sleep. She lets this very plain, normal man look after her- she even ends up kissing him. When things between them turn sexual, and she actually (in a very moving scene) discovers what sex is all about, she flees, afraid of herself and of him.

She meets a man in the woods that tries to rape her, he literally rips her human form, leaving her sitting with the remains of herself in her hands. He, seeing her alien form, sets her on fire.

The point that I think this film is trying to make is that all of us use each other. She used the men, just as both the aforementioned men used her. The difference being that as a women she transcends her monstrous state, but the men end up destroying her. A comment on heterosexual relations, or maybe a feminist critique? You decide!

Want to read more on Under the Skin? Try these…

Under the Skin.

Under the Skin.

Short Reviews: Under the Skin (2014).

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2014).

Ps. Visually, this film is a treat. Every scene is carefully thought out. The landscape, desolate Scotland, is both a wasteland and a promised land, in other words a contradiction in itself.

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One thought on “Under the Skin (2013)… Scarlet, Scotland and nothing else you’d expect

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