Under the Skin (15)

Film

Science fiction

Under the Skin

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
 

Time Out says

Posted: Wed Mar 12

ET landed in the cosy American suburbs and wanted to go home. Now Scarlett Johansson – or something that looks like her – lands in modern Glasgow and thinks about sticking around in Jonathan Glazer’s creepy, mysterious and bold ‘Under the Skin’. One can only guess that the weather is beyond dire on her side of the galaxy. The film is an adaptation of Michel Faber’s 2000 novel and the first in nearly a decade from the director of ‘Sexy Beast’ and ‘Birth’. It’s an intoxicating marvel, strange and sublime: it combines sci-fi ideas, gloriously unusual special effects and a sharp atmosphere of horror with the everyday mundanity of a woman driving about rainy Scotland in a battered transit van.

Dressed in fake fur and what looks like a dark wig, our female visitor eyes up the locals from a distance, her eyes kindly but free of emotion. Is she curious? Hungry? Horny? It feels like a serial-killer tale as she lures men into her van from the side of the street or from the dancefloor of a nightclub, always checking they’re alone. But occasionally we enter another world entirely as Glazer represents the final moments of her victims in scenes that show naked men walking into oil slicks and losing their lives. But then something changes as she reacts with compassion to a disfigured man and responds well to the kindness of another. There’s a suggestion that this Achilles heel is her undoing. All of this is delivered at a leisurely – some will say frustrating – pace. The look of the film moves between the chilly, gliding precison that Glazer perfected in ‘Birth’ to a more rough-hewn, surveillance-style effect.

Johansson’s performance is necessarily quiet, her look subtly out of this world. She utters her few lines in a refined English accent, while presumably most of the rest of the cast are non-professionals. Mico Levi’s score ups the dread level: it sounds at times like a new electronic language being born or a subtle form of communication between aliens. It’s a serious, often bleak film – a scene of a family faced with drowning is the film’s most horrific moment – but a wry humour stops it taking itself too seriously. It’s a story of a predator becoming prey, and it asks us to look at our world again with something like the fresh eyes of the martian poetry of Craig Raine, although that element of the film isn’t too laboured. Perhaps more interestingly, it offers some provocative sideways views on seduction, sexual power and its abuse. Daring and thoughtful.

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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Mar 14, 2014

Duration:

108 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Jonathan Glazer

Cast:

Scarlett Johansson, Paul Brannigan, Robert Chartoff

Screenwriter:

Jonathan Glazer

Cinemas showing Under the Skin

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Prince Charles Cinema

7 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BP Show map/details

  • Address:

    Prince Charles Cinema 7 Leicester Place
    London
    WC2H 7BP

Map
  • Fri Apr 18:

    • 13:30
    • 16:00
    • 20:50
  • Sat Apr 19:

    • 15:35
    • 18:05
    • 20:50
  • Sun Apr 20:

    • 15:45
    • 20:50
  • Mon Apr 21:

    • 13:30
    • 16:10
    • 18:35
    • 20:50
  • Tue Apr 22:

    • 13:40
    • 16:10
    • 18:35
    • 20:50
  • Wed Apr 23:

    • 13:40
    • 16:05
    • 18:30
    • 20:50
  • Thu Apr 24:

    • 13:40
    • 16:05
    • 20:50
  • Address:

    Odeon Panton Street Panton St
    SW1Y 4DP

Map
  • Fri Apr 18:

    • 17:15
  • Sat Apr 19:

    • 17:15
  • Sun Apr 20:

    • 17:15
  • Mon Apr 21:

    • 17:15
  • Tue Apr 22:

    • 17:15
  • Wed Apr 23:

    • 17:15
  • Thu Apr 24:

    • 17:15

ICA

The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH Show map/details

  • Address:

    ICA The Mall
    London
    SW1Y 5AH

  • Venue phone:

    020 7930 3647

  • Venue website:

    www.ica.org.uk

  • Opening hours:

    Tue (Free), Wed, Fri-Sun 11am-6pm; Thu 11am-9pm. Bar: Tue-Sun 11am–11pm.

  • Transport:

    Tube: Charing Cross

  • Price:

    £1 day membership from Feb 12 2014

  • Map

    1. ICA
      • The Mall
        London
        SW1Y 5AH
      • 020 7930 3647
      • www.ica.org.uk
      • 51.506609, -0.130585
Map
  • Fri Apr 18:

    • 15:30
  • Sat Apr 19:

    • 13:30
  • Sun Apr 20:

    • 20:30
  • Tue Apr 22:

    • 15:30

Electric Cinema (Portobello Rd)

191 Portobello Rd, London, W11 2ED Show map/details

  • Address:

    Electric Cinema (Portobello Rd) 191 Portobello Rd
    London
    W11 2ED

Map
  • Sun Apr 27:

    • 14:00
  • Address:

    Riverside Studios Crisp Rd
    W6 9RL

Map
  • Sat Apr 19:

    • 20:35
  • Sun Apr 20:

    • 16:20
    • 20:35

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

2.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:6
LiveReviews|9
7 people listening
David G
1 of 1 found helpful

Hmmm,what to make of this is difficult.l am a fan of the art house genre and do not expect everything to make sense.However here in this film too much content is essentially senseless and unconnected.We have some startling imagery and good use of colour.Johanson can't quite pull it off with this role.with her black hair and typically British untoned body,she does look very British.The second half is somewhat better than the first and l loved the surrealism of the very end.If you are a rational,collected person,you will loathe this film.If you are a dreamy non realistic and can just let yourself go,you will love this.l uncertain

Jim K
1 of 1 found helpful

I went to see this fiilm as a fan of both Johnathan Glazer's previous 'Sexy Beast' and Scarlett Johansson.

Other than that the little I knew about it bode well i.e. a predatory alien in Scotland.

Well even 'Species' was unintentionally funny.

This film was just awful.

My guess is that Johnathan Glazer has had some kind of breakdown in the interim between 'Sexy Beast' and this personal hell..

It wasn't just the huge holes in the plot.

It wasn't just the lingering camera shots of Scarlett, shot through a depressive fug.

It wasn't just the discordant music.

This movie made me feel unclean. I still have a bad taste in my mouth, which I can't wash out.

I came out of the cinema needing some clean air and a hot shower.

It felt like a bad comedown from a particularly bad acid trip.

Like David Lynch on downers and i am a fan of David Lynch.

For Scarlett an exercise in speaking in an English accent and looking mysterious o.k.

For the Scottish tourist board, some haunting bleak and beautiful scenery but this movie would put people off visiting Scotland.

In two words...

Pretentious shite!

MikeT
1 of 1 found helpful

Having thought Scarlett Johansson’s performance in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" excellent, I felt "Under the Skin" would be a fairly safe bet.  Four walk-outs in the first 30 minutes of the this film seemed to be sharing my view that this dull, darkly lit, illogical film, with massive plot holes and whose main character's motivation was never explained/understood was a waste of time.  It is desperately bad.  Thankfully I saw it on my Unlimited card, so it didn't hurt my wallet.  Two men in the row behind me were chatting as they got up to leave.  "Well, she won't be getting an Oscar for that", said one of them.  No, she won't.

Cleveland B

Five star review from Time Out? I'm there, £12 paid. But oh dear, either reviewer Dave Calhoun is just a little bit in love with Scarlett or likes to spend Saturdays down Tate Modern watching a video installation of a posh girl walking down a back alley somewhere in the North on a loop. I could never leave a film early, but this was close. I was the first to the exit at the end though.

Zohra J
1 of 1 found helpful

Have you ever wondered what Scarlett Johansson would like in a student movie? Do you enjoy spending hours watching close ups of her face? Do you think storylines, dialogues and general coherence are overrrated? Wait no more!

critique _

Unusual, memorable, slow-moving science fiction drama. Johansson is fantastically sexy and the soundtrack is unnerving. Three and a half stars.

Lily S

There were lots of beautiful shots and stunning images in this film but that couldn't save it from being a sad waste of a great opportunity.  Having read and loved the book I at least had some idea of what the story was but the friend I saw it with, who hadn't read it, was utterly lost. It was painfully slow, one of those films where you are relieved to see the end credits. The last five minutes were, frustratingly, the only point when the film took off. Read the book instead.  

Peter L

Stunning and unforgettable, it might require a little patience at times but it is such a rewarding film. Can't wait to see again!