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DVD Review

DVD cover

Under the Skin


Starring: Scarlett Johansson
Distributor: StudioCanal
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 14 July 2014

An alien in the guise of a young woman travels the streets of Scotland, interacting with people and experiencing everyday life. She chooses someone to speak to and, each time in turn, learns that situations do not all pan out the same. Sometimes people are genuine and try to help, on other occasions they are dangerous and try to take advantage. She endeavours to taste the food, but it is not palatable and she is forced to spit it out. One man gives her a place to stay, but keeps his distance emotionally until he learns to love her. But she cannot make love in the conventional way. Inevitably, however, she comes to a sad end, holding the head and skin of her human identity...

Although viewing this alone, my first reaction after the credits was to verbally exclaim, ‘What the hell was all that about?!’ Wanting to offer the film a fair review though, I decided to wait a few days so that it could sink in and my subconscious could perhaps come up with an explanation for this oddity. My opinion hasn’t changed since.

The promotional blurb describes Under the Skin as mesmerising, mystical and a masterpiece. Er…no! It’s the biggest load of pretentious rubbish I’ve come across in some time. Disguising the fact that nothing happens for pretty much the whole movie, we are meant to believe we are watching a hitherto unexplored study in what it is to be human. Don’t try to tell me this film is deep and that there is plenty to read into it. There is nothing. This is like English Literature students the world over being asked what Shakespeare really meant by a particular passage. He meant exactly what he said, for goodness sake. Why over-analyse everything!

The viewer has no idea for the entire length of the film – up to the final moment – that the woman is really an alien; perhaps if I had known, I might have looked on its respective experiences differently…

But I doubt it. Scarlett Johansson is revered by some for her part in this, but the truth is she does very little except wander around like she’s under hypnosis. Perhaps director Jonathan Glazer was going for something similar to The Man Who Fell to Earth, but this film possesses none of the weird eccentricity of the other. I’ll admit I haven’t read the original novel, but I’m sure it couldn’t have been this dull.

All I can say is avoid this one like the plague, and watch paint dry instead.


Ty Power

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