'Under the Skin' (2013)

I was really looking forward to watch 'Under the Skin', i loved Jonathan Glazer's previous movie 'Birth' (incredibly underrated), so i couldn't wait for anything new coming from this director. It took him 9 years to do another movie, and, as if 'Birth's plot wasn't weirder enough (A young boy tries to convince a woman that he is her dead husband reborn), he came up with an even weirder movie if possible.

'Under the Skin' is based on Michael Faber's sci-fi novel about an alien disguised in human form that drives around Scotland picking up men, and that's as much as i can tell. And as weird as that sounds, the movie results believable, just like it happened with 'Birth'.

In the movie, Scarlett Johansson plays an alien with a female figure, who has no sympathy for the humankind or feels no pity towards them and her coldness and hidden intentions, along with a soundtrack that sounds creepy as hell, create a whole atmosphere of uncertainty and terror. You just don't know what's happening, what's going to happen and why. The photography also increments the tension of the movie, with black scenarios when she's alone with the men.


The greatest achievement of the film is precisely to see how detached she's to any feeling and how dehumanised she is, and how little by little she starts to comprehend this world and the people living in it. She uses her female form to attract men, using sex as her weapon, but slowly, and after some experiences she has on Earth, she begins to act differently. She begins to question things, to appreciate small details like the sunlight, she feels somehow disturbed when she falls on the street and people kindly help her, or feels sorry about a man whose deformities on his face make him feel isolated from the rest. This is a key scene because she sees no difference between him and the others, and she understands his pain. In fact, it seems that even though she follows her scheme of seducing him to continue her mission, she releases him in the end. That's when we see the turning point of her character and how this is appreciated by another alien on Earth, the motorcycle man, whose character is also intriguing and results scary as well, as he lacks that sensibility she starts to have and captures the man she has just set free.

From this moment, she begins a journey on her own, she sees her own reflection in a mirror and feels fascinated by it, she gets in the middle of a fog and likes the sensation it brings, but not everything are pleasurable feelings. From that moment, and after seeing her human form, she tries to act like normal people do and it results impossible for her. From the time when she tries to eat a delicious piece of cake to interacting with strangers, she only feels disturbed. She's definitely trying when she accepts help of a random man on the bus without questioning his motives and lets him seduce her, which is a role she has never experienced before. Of course, this only confuses her more and runs away but now the most important part of the character development takes place:

Initially, she objectifies her role as a woman to carry on with her mission, but now, she's unaware of the consequences which that objectification can bring to a woman. At first, she's in charge of the situation and chooses her prey but now it's the other way around and has fatal consequences for her. She encounters a forest wander while walking through the woods and while at first he's kind to her and gives her directions worrying that she might get lost, when she falls sleep in a shelter she wakes up being groped by him, and runs away. She ran away to the woods to take comfort after the sexual encounter with the first man she allows to seduce her, and now she's scared by this forest wander who's trying to get advantage of her, just like she did with all those men. The result is tragic and while trying to force her, he breaks her skin showing her true nature and in a very touching moment, she releases her human form little by little until she holds her human face between her hands, looking at what she aimed to be, something she tried to turn into, only to be burnt by the forest wander.

That's, i think, the explanation of the internal struggle that she experiences, the combination of her human form and interactions with other humans is clearly not working, but it's with nature where she connects most. An evidence to this is when she lays down in the shelter to seek comfort after running away from her first and only lover, and we see how she merges with nature, how there she finds peace. That's why the ending is so poetic, while she gets burnt and rejected by humankind (or at least she's a victim of them), that combustion is in deed a communion with nature, she turns into ashes into the woods and up to the sky, and that's a way she becomes part of what she wanted.

The ending is very dramatic and sure it leaves you thinking about lots of things (just look at this mess of a review), but the movie is an experience worth watching. Besides the flawless photography, creating such amazing enviorment, and the amazing soundtrack by Mica Levi, Jonathan Glazer's latest movie is as iconic and flawless as i expected. Scarlett Johansson really stuns in the movie and delivers an really accurate portrayal from showing no emotions to feeling them all, and can only receive praise for this performance.

 I couldn't recommend it more but keep in mind that this is one of the weirdest movies you will see, and it stays on your mind for days, which i love. Obviously it's not a film for everyone but this is for me an instant classic. A must-watch.

Also, the soundtrack by Mica Levi is amazing, so i posted the most hauting track right after some images of the movie that i loved, i couldn't post all the stills i wanted since my computer is broken down (hence the lack of updates) but here are a few super iconic shots and also the teaser of the movie that gives you a taste of what you have coming:

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