Reviews: Under The Skin

My review

A great deal of films that are recognized for their greatness is relied on acting performances and writing achievements when it comes to winning the big awards and this is one of the best that took more out of improvised interactions, silent scenes, and haunting imagery. There's barely any dialogue in the film that is catchy or that expresses as much meaning as the imagery does. It reminds us of what film was made to be, nothing too theatrical or too literary, just subtle moving pictures of the world we live in and the imagination of what lurks beyond or beneath it. It's too bad that cinematography is limited to only one category when it defines so much of what cinema is all about and there should be awards given to all aspects that are captured within the camera. That's one of the highest prizes a film can get and this film should have been nominated for that category, but if Birdman wins that will be all the better for a film that also achieved the best in cinema so far for the best in cinematic aesthetics.

Sci-fi Vegetarian Propaganda

Under The Skin is about the scariest damned thing I've seen in a long time, and it achieves it without a single blood stain, jump scare or hockey mask. It is also an astonishingly beautiful presentation of an incredibly ugly story; a World in which horny men are prayed on by ruthless Aliens and sucked into inscrutable death contraptions.

The film tells its story exclusively through dazzling visuals, without a single word of verbal exposition. Skin expects its audience to figure out what is going on through inference alone. In that sense, it runs a risk of becoming self indulgent and needlessly obtuse (a la 2001: A Space Odyssey), however it never quite crosses that line. Ultimately, there is a discernible story of one alien's discovery of humanity. The pace is slow - definitely too slow for some - and I'm reminded a lot of No Country For Old Men in terms of its fondness for gazing at landscape, its occasional brute nihilism, its slow burn story telling and most of all, its focus on the perspective on a ruthless outsider who defies scrutiny. Scarlett Johansson makes one hell of an Anton Chigurh.

There is also a heavy dose of sexual politics, and a heavier promotion for vegetarianism. Sci-fi like this, along with War of the Worlds and The Matrix, brings back my pangs of carnivorous guilt. Seeing mankind sent off to the slaughter house is almost enough to make me skip my next bacon sandwich. Almost.

I could easily recommend Under the Skin on the visuals alone. Or on the horror alone. Or on the themes alone. Or the acting tour de force. Watch it for all of these things.