Day #53: Under the Skin (2013)

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Under the Skin (2013) IMDB

Synopsis:

A woman (Scarlett Johansson) drives around the streets of Scotland, picking up men without family and friends. Day after day she observes the people around her, and soon finds herself starting to question her own identity.

My take:

I suspect that this is going to be a study in contrasts after yesterday’s post about Suspiria. I’ve read some of the commentary about Under the Skin and found comments similar to those I made yesterday; that it’s meandering and, while aesthetically pleasing, lacks a coherent enough story to maintain the viewer’s interest.

To an extent, I can see why people are saying this. I mean, personally, I think the story’s pretty coherent in its simplicity, but it’s not like anything exciting really happens from beginning to end.

However, I found myself entirely engaged by Under the Skin. In fact, I’d say it’s one of my favourite movies in quite a while.

As I’ve already mentioned, it’s beautifully shot. There were moments here and there where I felt like a scene held on for a couple of seconds too long, but otherwise I found it to be brilliantly edited; particularly with respect to how it contrasted Scarlett Johansson’s stillness with the bustling cacophony of Scotland’s streets.

As for Scarlett Johansson. Generally? I’m not a fan. I just find that there’s something off about her in most films, like she’s emulating human emotions that she’s never actually experienced herself. Which is why it’s so odd that, in this role (as in Her), I found her acting to be entirely en pointe. I really got a sense of her character’s emotional development, and think that my emotional response to the end of the movie – despite everything that had come before – was mostly the result of her acting. It almost makes me wish she’d stick to these off the beaten path-type movies, and stay away from blockbusters.

Those final moments of the movie? Ugh. The feels.

Under the Skin is an extremely understated take on an emotionally-charged story. Throw in a great soundtrack, some amazing (if sparsely used) special effects, and you’ve got a movie an all-around brilliant movie, I think. I’ll happily be watching it again in the future.

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