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Under the Skin More at IMDbPro »

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544 out of 889 people found the following review useful:

Someone kept pausing the wait they didn't.

Author: ArT_of_InSaNiTy from United Kingdom
16 March 2014

I would like to start by saying i am a fan of films that are "different". I don't need a million gunshots or explosions to entertain me. I am not set on good guy vs bad guy and good guy winning. I like thought provoking films; i enjoy them much more than the soul sucking films that are manufactured on a daily basis. So i was intrigued by this one. The trailer was dark and seemed full of suspense. The critics had made bold comparisons with Stanley Kubrick, which in itself is a massive compliment. And as someone who lives in Scotland it had a little sentiment to it.

But for me it was dull. Every time i thought it was going to pick up the pace, it decelerated. It was so slow it may as well have been going backwards. There are far too many scenes that are prolonged. I am fully aware of its intention to focus on aesthetically driven scenes. But 5/6 seconds is enough to appreciate it, not 10/15 seconds. At some points i thought the reel had maybe stuck and was expecting a CineWorld employee to come pacing round the corner to explain that there was something wrong. It just pauses at points that don't need that much attention. I am also aware of the symbolic nature the film carries. It is clearly a film you need to look further to understand it in more depth. That is fine; i welcome that, but the problem is that it does this without conviction. I don't need to see the masses of drunkards who swarm Sauchiehall Street 20 times. What is the purpose? To let us know that we, as people, blindly walk through life intoxicated not appreciating the finer things in life? That Under the skin we are empty? I assume that is a candidate for its meaning.

Scarlett Johansson doesn't have a lot to do in this film; basically make small talk and get naked, all the while with a plain face. And considering how ridiculous the Scottish actors are made to look, maybe she is due some credit for maintaining that straight face. There are a few things that bug me however; like she can walk down your average staircase, but panics with a spiral staircase. There is a definite point to this film, but with the layout, with there being no real culmination, no real explanation, it leaves you feeling you have been robbed of a film that could have been more. Could have told a better story. And for any Americans who watch, not all Scottish people talk like that, or wear horrible purple shirts, unnecessarily tucking them into our over elevated jeans. We don't all support Hibs and when a van is parked not all of us will gang up and try to break into the van. So feel free to visit. It is a nice place after all. Although the film had some stunning scenes and promotes Scotland visually, it doesn't exactly put the people in a great light.

I wanted to enjoy this film, but i couldn't. I wanted to agree with comparisons with Kubrick, but i certainly won't. You can throw arguments of it was beautifully crafted or had symbolic serenity, but at the end of the day it is slow, uneventful and lacked culmination.

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494 out of 801 people found the following review useful:

Balloons. Surfaces. A profound study of our society.

Author: Eivinas Butkus from Vilnius, Lithuania
10 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to admit that I did not see the first minutes of the film. Neither have I read the book therefore I will write about this film as if it was a piece of art on its own, which it is.

Under the Skin is a new picture from Jonathan Glazer, who has also directed Birth with Nicole Kidman and some music videos for bands like Radiohead. The main character, alien Laura, is played by the famous actress Scarlett Johansson.

Firstly, there is no obvious narrative in this film, because it does not have a big significance or importance here. On the most basic level it is a story of an alien imposing a woman and seducing men from all over Scotland in order to drain their flesh. This is the most simple summary of the movie. On deeper layers it is a serious study of our society. The film's main focus is on the inside and outside of things, the philosophy of form and material. Johansson's character is struggling in this society. She is always portrayed as going against the stream, she is lost in the sea of rushing people who do not want to get deeper into things, because they know they could be hurt. This is represented in a very subtle visual way. For instance, roses look nice in the film, but they have spikes which make rose seller's hands bleed. A piece of cake seems delicious, but the taste of it is disgusting. It is always the fight between the surface and depth in this film, the first impression and further investigation. I believe it is a very important theme for our society where people are afraid of making commitments or engagements, where they seek for quick pleasures, even though they need true and honest love. The film is very strong visually and stylistically. In order for the reader to get a glimpse of what it is, I will say that it is sort of a combination of Kubrick, Lynch and von Trier.

Kubrick - for using clever cinematic language, for all the subliminal messages that are there like a sign on a building saying "Open 24" which is pretty ironic as nobody in the film is truly open. The director deliberately plays with this open and closed concept a lot. The music is somewhat similar to Eyes Wide Shut's too and I think it is used to the fullest in Under the Skin as a form of expression. One can also feel the influence of 2001: A Space Odyssey with all those shots of abstract liquids and close-ups of a human eye.

Lynch - for the dreamy, surreal sequences and the guy with the ugly face. I see it as a direct reference to his film The Elephant Man where he also talks about the inner beauty of a human being.

Von Trier - for the sea scene (Breaking the Waves), for the foggy scenes in the woods (Antichrist). Like it usually happens with von Trier's work, someone might blame this film of cheap shock value. I do not think that is the case. The film is being a little provocative, indeed, but at the same time all those provocations are reasoned by the message the director wants to convey.

So one can easily feel some influence from other directors, maybe some references, but I should say that this film does not lack originality at all. The directing decisions and the choice of music are as strong as the 2.5 minute close-up of Nicole Kidman's face in Birth. If you have seen that scene, you know what you are dealing with here.

Even though, in my opinion, the images are very meaningful and extremely powerful, Under the Skin has received a lot of contrasting responses. Personally, I think the film is a masterpiece and it is worth the Golden Lion, but there are people who actually hated it and booed at it after having seen it. I cannot really understand why they did that, but I think it is good when a piece of art inflicts emotions and receives such different responses. It means that it is not mediocre and that it will cause discussions, maybe some self reflection which is always a good thing. The film suggests that I should get more into details, analyse things carefully from beginning to end, but I will not, just because I want other people to see it first and make their own conclusions. But obviously Under the Skin demands a bigger analysis than this one. I will just say that I was blown away by what I saw on the screen and by what I heard from the speakers. I hope I will get to see it again on the big screen. It has so much power and it is questioning the most important, essential things about our existence - our values as human beings. Where are we going, where are we rushing? Maybe we need to stop and look at the beauty around us? Maybe we should stop being superficial about others? Or maybe we are empty like balloons ourselves? For me it is definitely the best film from the 70th Venice Film Festival and one of the best films I have seen in my life.

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378 out of 598 people found the following review useful:

If you fall asleep you will have missed nothing.

Author: postmortem-books from United Kingdom
23 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At the end of this film someone shouted out "What a load of old pony" and a cheer went up from a fair proportion of the audience - that part that either hadn't left before the end or hadn't fallen asleep. To continue the metaphor then this film is up there with the old nag that Steptoe and Son keep in their back yard.

The opening minutes are pretty indicative of what's to come. A nonsensical light show that signifies what precisely? Throw in eerie soundtrack music. And then extend it way beyond the powers of concentration of the most devoted of viewers.

Motor-bike man runs into a dark ditch and picks up a woman who looks dead. Next, another woman strips the dead woman. Next, she is driving around Glasgow in a white van. The combination of darkness/semi-light and Glaswegian accents which are more or less indecipherable only serves to make whatever's going on on-screen even more confusing. Somewhere along the line the Elephant Man has escaped from another film and gets picked up by Johanssen. He doesn't drown like the previous two men that she seduces but runs off naked across the moors. Motor-bike man catches him and puts into the boot of a car. He drives off. Don't know what happens to the car or Elephant Man. By this time people were leaving, my neighbour was sound asleep and I had two red-hot pins ready to stick into my eyes.

I can't even be bothered to run over the rest of this abysmal, tedious story. Shots were held for ever in the mistaken belief, I presume, that we gave a damn about we were seeing. Nothing happened.

It's now the next morning and I'm still angry at forking out £10 and wasting 2 hours of life to see this pile of dreck. Beany-hatted, sandal-wearing academics will just love this film and will witter on endlessly to their poor students about the "significance" of it all. Believe me, there is none.

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283 out of 477 people found the following review useful:

Long shots and long silences

Author: davidgee from United Kingdom
19 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The last time I was this bored in a cinema it was during the era of the French New Wave: films like Last Year In Marienbad and Hiroshima Mon Amour, which were all about Style (if you can call it that) rather than Substance.

Scarlett Johansson plays a mysterious woman who preys on hitch-hikers and dropouts in Glasgow and the Scottish Lowlands. It isn't confirmed until the end that she's a PREDATOR-style alien being, but the critics have not kept this "spoiler" from us, so I guess it's okay to mention it. Based on a cult novel and with a cult director (Jonathan Glazer: SEXY BEAST), the film is full of long shots and long silences. It's also filmed in near-total darkness, presumably to keep down the cost of special effects, but this means the viewer can't actually tell what's going on most of the time. Is she just killing her victims or is she 'assimilating' them? Don't know and - sorry! - don't care.

I can't imagine why they needed a star of Johansson's magnitude for this low-budget tosh. Nor can I imagine why she took the role. The SPECIES movies covered the storyline more thrillingly and more viscerally. If this is meant to be a pretentious "art-house" film about an alien predating on alienated members of Scottish society, all I can say is it definitely alienated me!

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168 out of 256 people found the following review useful:

Amazing but not for everyone

Author: spacejunk001 from Montreal, Canada
6 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a film that will divide audiences, for sure - but, don't forget, so did 2001: A Space Odyssey when it came out. Despite the presence of a mainstream actress, and a science fiction premise, this is an art film 100%, inviting a very subjective response from audiences. Which isn't to say it doesn't have a plot, though. Addressing the confusion of previous IMDb comments - the men that Johansson's alien traps have their innards sucked out and transported through a cosmic portal. One scene makes that pretty hard to miss! The film is about her developing a morality based on her actions, and trying to escape the purpose on earth that she's functioned for, that her overseers (the people on motorbikes - also aliens in human form) make sure she goes through with)

A super-creepy music score, amazing visuals and a brave & mesmerizing performance from SJ combine for a film that will be talked about for years to come. Ignore whatever you read about it - especially the bad comments here, which are completely ignorant - and go in with an open mind.

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282 out of 490 people found the following review useful:

Jonathon Glazer continues his ascent with another fabulous movie that will entirely divide its audience

Author: markgorman from United Kingdom
16 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You have never seen a movie even remotely like this.

It's been a long time coming. Ten years in development, to be precise, and I've followed the saga throughout.

My interest was based on my love of the source novel by Michel Faber which is a modern classic.

Clearly the 10 year development period demonstrated the difficulty with which the novel would translate to the screen but, in my opinion, it was worth the effort, and the wait.

When I heard that it was in Jonathon Glazer's hands (Birth and Sexy Beast) I was encouraged, and when I found out that Scarlett Johansen was to play the central character Isserley (unnamed in the movie but credited as Laura for some reason) my heart skipped a beat.

I was not disappointed, but let's make no mistake, this is a Marmite movie.

My wife was bored to tears. And I can see why one IMDb reviewer headlines his review "Tedious. Thoughtless. Empty. A failure in all ways." But I disagree entirely. It's fair to say that the pace is laconic, but it's a thing of beauty and a movie packed full of ideas, unique special effects and greatness.

If you haven't read the novel you might be forgiven for asking what the hell is going on in this story and, yes, there are elements of it that are fully explored. The long section of the movie where Isserley combs the streets of Glasgow, looking for her victims, with the help of hidden cameras bringing a documentary feel to the whole proceeding, is long and a little repetitive. But it's necessary to show the exhaustion of her task and her eventual disintegration. What's more, it does not paint the city in an entirely positive light. To that end Creative Scotland should be commended for supporting it. It's a movie packed with visual metaphor. There are some moments of horror but they are far from gratuitous and all completely emotionless which is to be expected given that Isserley is an alien, devoid of emotion, sent to earth to farm unattached males for her home planet (not that you'd work that out).

From the opening sequence in which Isserley's eyes are created, to replicate humans', the imagery is breathtakingly disconcerting. It's underpinned by an outstanding soundtrack by Mica Levi.

Johansonn is magnificent. Isn't she always? She is brave to take on a role this opinion dividing, and she manages to exude a total lack of emotion throughout in such a way that, unbelievably, you kind of sympathise with her role as human culler.

Glazer is magnificent. But he always is. Birth is a much underrated movie and anyone who saw his debut, Sexy Beast, cannot fail to love the guy.

This is a great movie. Rammed to the rafters with original thought. It's just a great pity so many of you will dislike it so much.

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236 out of 411 people found the following review useful:

Did someone owe a favor?

Author: mavnick-1 from United States
12 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

OK, so we sat through the entire film. We left after the credits rolled and looked at each other with the "WTF was that!" look. Some observations: 1. Scarlett had one facial expression throughout the whole film 2. Those who compare it to the works of Stanley Kubrick have obviously not seen a Stanley Kubrick film 3. The soundtrack was annoying which I would contribute to the director having made too many music videos 4. Too many holes in the script to mention here 5. Who were the guys on the motorcycle and how come they did not need to "feed" ? 6. The reviews I had read mentioned that it used ground breaking techniques in camera placement (in the van), Have these guys seen any episodes of COPS? That is inventive camera placement! 7. And what was she thinking when she signed on to do this film???

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323 out of 586 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant, Fresh & Stimulating in every sense...

Author: Lisbeth_S from United States
15 March 2014

Whenever you have a groundbreaking film that redefines Form, you are going to have some that either love it or hate it. Having said that, as I get older I more often find reading the user comments on IMDb fills me with despair for the species. For anybody to dismiss Under The Skin as "boring" they must have no interest in human consciousness, science, technology, philosophy, history or the art of film-making. Finally I understand why most Hollywood productions are so shallow and vacuous - they understand their audience.

"Under The Skin" is unique among films in content and scope. The cinematography is out-of-this-world, breathtaking, and the musical score is sublime. I rarely use the word "masterpiece" to describe a movie. But Jonathan Glazer's "Under The Skin" is art in the highest sense, like Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa", or Vincent Van Gogh's "The Starry Night".

The film requires you to watch in a different way than you normally watch films. It requires you to experience strange and beautiful images without feeling guilty that there is no complex plot or detailed characterization. Don't get me wrong, plots and characters are good, but they're not the be-all and end-all of everything. There are different KINDS of film, and to enjoy 'Under The Sin' you must tune your brain to a different wavelength and succumb to the pleasure of beauty, PURE beauty, 'the vast unknown' and an Alien perspective, unfettered by the banal conventions of everyday films.

"Under The Skin" is a absolutely unique movie experience. Those who miss out on it do so at the detriment of their own intellectual and imaginative capacities.

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117 out of 180 people found the following review useful:

Not the Book

Author: Sharonov from United States
17 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

About 5 years ago I read the book by Michael Faber. In the book, a strange looking woman with big boobs picks up Scottish hitchhikers, ascertains if they're alone in the world; if they are, she takes them to a secret place where they are anesthetized, then castrated and de- tongued. They are then fattened to be used for food in the place she comes from, an unnamed planet. She has had her face altered to look human by removing her snout. She feels very ugly because of this. At one point a male she was in love with comes to visit the secret place and she feels terrible because of her "deformity", realizing that now he will never love her. At one point in the book she is almost raped by a very crude man, and blinds him with her nails.

The poor men being fattened for food are depicted as being very pathetic, and I originally thought it was a protest against the way we treat factory farm animals. Michael Faber denied this, and maybe that's why he hasn't protested this very vague use of his work. And, maybe he's just hungry.

This movie is so far from the book it's ridiculous, but that would have been OK if it weren't so boring. Some of the special effects and music were just weird enough to make what happens almost believable. Had it been shortened; had it been a little more obvious why the men were being caught and imprisoned in the jello stuff, I think I would have enjoyed it more. As the previous reviewer pointed out, the scenes were just too long.

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88 out of 127 people found the following review useful:

If your open minded give it a try

Author: RaveReviewerzzz from United Kingdom
10 August 2014

I am surprised by the amount of negative criticism about this film as I found it mesmerising and intriguing. If your expecting some Hollywood movie about a sexy alien killing lots of dull characters in a gory and sensationalised way (with lots of explosions thrown in), then you will be disappointed. The pace is slow however I felt that this contributed to the whole feel and atmosphere. I liked the use of Scotland as a setting especially the way it contrasted the natural beauty of Scotland with some of the urban ugliness that exists. I also liked the way Scarlett Johansson played the main role - cool, sexy and almost emotionless. I am glad I didn't watch this at the cinema as watching it at home meant I could discuss the film during the many periods of calm. There were a few arty scenes in the film but I did not feel these were pretentious or contrived, again they added to the feel of the film. The ending was a little disappointing in my opinion but I still feel this film is classy, original and will make most people think!

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