Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Under The Skin" - Review

Jonathan Glazer's "Under The Skin" is an unsettling, one of a kind experience. Through the eyes of an extraterrestrial woman (?) we see North Scotland as series of stark empty benches, crowded shopping malls, and forests full of decay and rot. Glazer and his cinematographer capture grimy grey and brown flats, coupled with lush unearthly reds and the blackest of black voids, in which young men are lured to their demise by this being from beyond. With black hair, red lipstick-coated lips, her blue eyes conveying a blank apathy, which turns to wonder, then fear, Scarlett Johansson gives a truly alien performance. Not since David Bowie in "The Man Who Fell to Earth", has a performer captured the way someone not of this earth would perceive our world for the first time.

Glazer's palate definitely sports a few a Kubrick space trip reference points. Not surprising, as the late director's influence on Glazer dates back to his music video for Blur's The Universal, which places the band in a cross between heaven and the Korova Milk Bar from "A Clockwork Orange".

One sequence in particular, reminds one of fellow music video director Chris Cunningham's infamous 2000 erotic installation Flex.

But, despite any influences, Glazer makes this hypnotic trip all his own.

Of special note, is the all-consuming musical score by Mica Levi, the sound design by Johnnie Burn, and the music supervision by Pete Raeburn.

The full effect of their combined efforts is an aural symphony of raw sound which plays like a transmission from alien angels mixed with the barrage of Lou Reed's 1975 feedback opus Metal Machine Music.

Topping the "winter at the Dakota" spell of "Birth" and the bloody comic mayhem of "Sexy Beast", "Under the Skin" is Jonathan Glazer's masterpiece.

Discovering Michel Faber's 2000 novel was the best thing that ever happened to him. And dare I add, to us, as well.

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