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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a captivating film - but a divisive film that is not for everyone's tastes
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Possible Spoilers

This is a film that has taken nearly 10 years for Director Jonathan Glazer to bring to the big screen, and had Glazer and his crew guerrilla filming north of the Scottish border. Adapted from Michel Faber's novel of the same name, the film discards virtually all of the book's `landscape' and the irony of commercial farming. The...
Published 11 months ago by Susman

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Admirable but dull
I have mixed feelings about this. It's a genuinely original film in many respects, but I also have to admit to finding it a little dull and just a touch reminiscent of the kind of low budget arthouse films that tend to garner completely unjustifiable praise on account of being a bit obscure.

What really makes the film stand out is the sheer novelty of watching...
Published 21 days ago by Mr. S. A. Brown


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a captivating film - but a divisive film that is not for everyone's tastes, 19 July 2014
By 
Susman "Susman" (London Mills IL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Under The Skin [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
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Possible Spoilers

This is a film that has taken nearly 10 years for Director Jonathan Glazer to bring to the big screen, and had Glazer and his crew guerrilla filming north of the Scottish border. Adapted from Michel Faber's novel of the same name, the film discards virtually all of the book's `landscape' and the irony of commercial farming. The story of Scarlett Johansson's extra-terrestrial entity begins with an enigmatic "birth" sequence from another dimension or other-world. There are faint glimmers of speech hummed through a distorted fog of sound. Then vocalizations repeat and develop and it becomes clear that they're consonants, then syllabic sounds, and finally whole words. The manner in which these enunciations acquiesce into speech is matched by sight of an abstract image of light and a circular shape, which ultimately - in the most intangible way - then reveal a human eye.

The alien is then transported to Scotland's grey, rainy streets of what appears to be Glasgow and it - she - has a minder or a `familiar' for back-up support, he wears made-to-measure leathers and rides a R1 Yamaha motorbike. He acquires for her a dead human girl salvaged from the roadside. Or perhaps this is another expired alien whose shape is being reused? Whatever the case may be, our alien is soon up and running in her white Mercedes Sprint Transit - she then prowls the Highlands Lowlands. There is succinct plainspoken interconnectivity between Johansson and men who think she's just a lost lass from South of the border. She comes over as sultry and tempting, with her innocent disarming smile that could be read as being coquettish. However, the alien has one single minded purpose, to sexually entice wide-eyed males who can't trust to their good luck and are quite right not to do so. A film that at times emulates a style of documentary filmmaking; where it combines improvisation, with the use of the camera to expose truth or highlight subjects concealed behind crude realism.

The only sign that the alien is leading men to be harvested for nourishment (but for who or what we are never told) is in an unnerving sequence that shows the sufferers of her seduction. For me Johansson is nothing short of hypnotic in the role as the alien and plays it so very well. There is so little vocal narrative; there are snatches of isolated dialogue. Yet there is a discernible narrative to follow - we see this through the eyes of the alien and a montage of ominous images. The scenes where her would be victims are taken (and finally processed and dispatched into their bare constituents) are astonishing and chilling. All the buildings she uses, as portals to her lair, are derelict and in decay - and yet her unwitting victims follow her into the black 'inky' void. Then of course is the film's extraordinary score, by Mica Levi, which furnishes our predatory alien with her three-note Siren's call. Here then is a real marriage between Levi's score and celluloid. For me this is a captivating film, but a divisive film, that is not for everyone's tastes as you either love it or hate it.
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145 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A future cult classic, 1 April 2014
This review is from: Under The Skin [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Under The Skin

Imagine that you condensed the plot of a novel down to a single sentence.

Now ignore half of that sentence and make a film of the result.

This seems to have part of the ten year creative process in turning Michel Faber’s novel into Jonathan Glazer’s film.

The resulting film is both haunting and beautiful, contrasting the grit and reality of Glasgow with the isolated emptiness of the Scottish countryside and a clinical hyper-stylised ‘alien’ lair.

The lair scenes and the opening sequence, especially, are reminiscent of Kubrick’s interpretation of Arthur C Clarke’s ‘2001’ whilst the overall feeling is similar to David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’, the awkward outsider who struggles to understand this human world.

Whilst much has been made of the use of real people as victims it’s Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of the seductress, Laura, hunting down lonely men for unspeakable reasons that will stay with the viewer, her understated beauty and unease perfect for the character of Laura but so different from the novel’s awkward, surgically deformed protagonist Isserley.

Book and film stand apart, and the good news is that experiencing neither would affect the enjoyment of the other so different are the storylines but I can’t help thinking that the film lacked a lot in explanation although it more than made up for this with style.

If anything the book is probably darker than the film condemning everything from big business to factory farming and exploring the idea of class through an alien culture. The film touches on none of these themes and the viewer could easily be left wondering what it was all about.

Undoubtedly a masterpiece of the cinematic art, thought provoking and disturbing, ‘Under The Skin’ won’t trouble any box office charts but it will become a cult favourite.

If you’re intrigued enough by the film reading the book would explain a lot, just don’t expect to recognise too much of the story between it’s pages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars when you're a stranger, 21 Jun. 2014
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Under The Skin [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
It is not often that you see something genuinely strange, but the atmosphere of this film certainly is that, in a thrilling way. It dares you to go with it open-eyed, to allow it to open a door in the mind that hasn't been pushed open before, using extraordinary visual effects and sounds (but not a flying saucer among them). The images are often very beautiful, not least of which are those of Scarlett Johansson herself, who is an "effect" in the film. There is also quite a lot of the everyday, shown in almost documentary style, and it is the interface between the two that makes it so intriguing and utterly original. It is best not to know too much, but anyone who enjoyed Birth is likely to be very receptive to this, which is almost as good. Jonathan Glazer has once again used a very alluring actress in a scenario that is so full of mystery and strange resonances that you wonder how he can possibly bring it to a conclusion ... The fantastic score is another factor common to both, and a strange uniformity of tone and colour, although here bleak weather in Scotland, whether in Glasgow or the open country, or on the coast, is set against a starkly different dimension, mirroring the greater ambition of the new film (although Birth had more emotional depth). Johansson is amazing in the lead; I did wonder how strange her view really was, though, as I tend to feel quite alienated myself from those around me and regard their reactions with some sense of otherness, rather as she does. I'm not aware of any gloopy interface, but could one be an alien without knowing it, possibly? At all events, the whole alien/human thing seems to be called into question, which is no bad thing ...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Admirable but dull, 8 Jun. 2015
By 
Mr. S. A. Brown "yentilsale1" (Kilmarnock, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Under The Skin [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
I have mixed feelings about this. It's a genuinely original film in many respects, but I also have to admit to finding it a little dull and just a touch reminiscent of the kind of low budget arthouse films that tend to garner completely unjustifiable praise on account of being a bit obscure.

What really makes the film stand out is the sheer novelty of watching Scarlett Johannson wandering around Scotland. The reason this is so disturbing is that your average film portrayal of the UK is usually a kind of sanitised version in which everybody speaks in watered down accents, Colin Firth turns up in a tuxedo and the working class all sound a bit like Bob Hoskins. To see Britain as it actually is on the big screen, and Scotland in particular, is unusual in itself, but to throw a Hollywood A-lister into that environment just makes it a very odd and unsettling experience.

However, beyond that I found it quite difficult to genuinely enjoy it. It goes down the classic arthouse/film school route of abandoning scripted dialogue entirely and presenting a plot that's so thinly portrayed you'd really have to have read up on it in advance to know what's going on. There are many great films which take that approach, of course, but in this case I felt the net effect was that it dragged painfully toward the conclusion and despite some brilliant elements (the "love scenes" if they can be called that are superb, as is the soundtrack and the slow development of empathy in Scarlett Johannson's character) I'd be lying if I said I found it a particularly pleasant experience.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparsely Brilliant, 1 Jun. 2015
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B - See all my reviews
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Sparse, minimalist and eerie. Under the Skin does everything it can to keep you from feeling at ease. It plunges you into an alien experience with no explanation and lets you just ride through the emotions it evokes. Certainly not for everyone, but more adventurous film fans should certainly give it a go.
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50 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, Intelligent & Unique, 7 Aug. 2014
By 
Mr. C. Gelderd "aka GelNerd" (Basingstoke, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is one of those films where I am struggling to give it a star rating. On one hand it could be a 2 star film, but easily it could be a 4 star film. It may even be a 5 star film. I’ve never experienced a film so haunting, so simple but so surreal and thoughtful in its narrative and cinematography that it becomes engrossing and uncomfortable to watch at the same time.

Scarlett Johansson simply carries the film (much like Tom Hardy did recently in another character driven film ‘Locke’), and you can’t take your eyes off her. She has little dialogue and conveys her emotion via her physical appearance. She is an actress capable of entertaining masses in action blockbusters or dreamy rom-coms but proving her also a grounded understanding of what it means to strip away the excess of Hollywood escapism and portray one of the most complex, realistic-cum-fantastical and haunting characters in her career to date. Her natural beauty is also something you can’t fail to admire, and that plays to her strength as a seductive being out for more sinister goals. She takes us on an emotional journey through a range of emotions and ultimately we can’t fail to finally warm to her, feel compassion for her and understand her.

Saying that, the supporting cast of largely unknown UK faces (bar possibly pro motorcyclist Jeremy McWilliams) add to the look and feel of this film greatly, giving it lots of authenticity. It plays out almost like a fly-on-the-wall documentary on the streets of Scotland, with improvised dialogue between the actors and Johansson for a very natural process of seduction. They are brave actors who take on full frontal nudity in nightmarish situations and they help make Johansson’s character all the more mysterious as the fish out of water in Scotland.

It’s a very beautiful film to watch with long, lingering shots across Scotland using everything from the natural surroundings of the coastlines and dense forests to the heavy rain and thick fog across the Highlands. I hate the term “arty” describing film, but I guess this is what ‘Under The Skin’ really is; an art film. It plays out like a visual interpretation of the human psyche and a dreamy world we live in, fuelled by the mystery surrounding Johansson and McWilliams and their relationship. Extreme close-ups, pulled back sweeping shots, high and low angles all help add to the intrusive, semi-erotic and at times voyeuristic feel to this film. We linger on shots of naked bodies, plump lips, curvaceous hips and smokey eyes, all tinged with a sense of that predatory allure that entices us in as the audience as much as the men adoring Johansson’s semi-naked body before them.

Aided by a sparse but very effective soundtrack that serves as a very un-nerving and tense companion to the uncertainty of the scenes played out, this may be difficult to watch in places where the very things that would make us human are taken away before our very eyes in brutal moments that shows the detachment of Johansson’s character to the rest of humanity. The scene on the beach a third in was one of the most harrowing and uncomfortable sequences I’ve seen on film for a very, very long time and it moved me like nothing else has before in film; it was real, it was upsetting and it was horrific. And there was nothing I could do about it except watch though watery eyes. The finale is also tragic to see, not saying what happens or involving who, but it will leave you feeling helpless and seeking a reassuring conversation or hug from someone close to you to remind yourself you’re not alone out there in that big, wide scary world.

While not to everyone’s taste for what they may expect with a marketed sci-fi film starting The Black Widow herself, full of action, sex, fantastical elements and coarse language, it’s not. It’s totally the opposite. Everything here is tastefully done, steadily paced and lots of elements are lingered on; never rushed. This needs to have your full attention and your mind open to everything and anything. The plot is very simple when you get under the skin (thank you) of the film itself, it is just presented in a very clever, beautiful and haunting way that is totally unique and not comparable to anything else I’ve seen recently.

Writing this, it's a 4 star review I think. It needs another viewing to take it all in again, and it's impossible to compare this to other 4-star reviews I've made, or 5-star reviews that may not be "better" to others. This is a 4-star review of one film alone - 'Under The Skin' with no comparison to anything else out there. It's impossible to compare it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 27 Feb. 2015
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Amazing.
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50 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Marmite of Films, 11 April 2014
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A. B. Kenwright "tonyk186" (Liverpool UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Under The Skin [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Have rarely seen a film that divided audiences like this one. For me it was irresistable, haunting, beautiful, tender, dark, eerie, sharp and deliciously under-explained.
In the days before videos and DVDs etc. when the only way to see a film again was to go back to the cinema for a second look, I occasionally did that. I haven't done it for 20 years but this film so intrigued me that I actually went back to the cinema two days after first seeing it to watch it all over again. Guess what? It was even better the second time. I'll be buying the DVD because I suspect it might be even better the third time. It's like nothing else you've ever seen but as I touchstone I'd say that if you thought Let The Right On In was a masterpiece, I did, then you'll love this.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original, mysterious, creepy ... Must see film, 1 May 2015
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Amazing film ... Unusual sums up the storyline ... Scenes of male and female full on nudity might be a bit much if watching with your nan (!) but totally original film ... Don't want to spoil it so won't elaborate ... I hate horror, blood, gore etc ... This is not strictly like that but is very creepy, dark and mysterious ... Scarlett Johansson is at her best
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating representation of Glasgow, 22 May 2015
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I agree with the person who said this will one day be a cult classic. Worth watching!
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Under The Skin [DVD] [2014]
Under The Skin [DVD] [2014] by Jonathan Glazer (DVD - 2014)
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