Now Playing: Under the Skin

Can I pretend I wrote this marvelous review by Michael Glover Smith from Chicago? Top-rate assessment of ‘Under the Skin’.

White City Cinema

Under the Skin
dir: Jonathan Glazer, UK/USA, 2013
Rating: 9.6

undertheskinThe bottom line: You don’t want to wake up, do you?

Now playing at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema in Chicago is Under the Skin, the third and best feature film to date by British writer/director Jonathan Glazer. Based on an acclaimed science-fiction novel by Michel Faber, which I haven’t read but with which the filmmakers have apparently taken many liberties in adapting, the end result is an exciting, disturbing, sexy, visually ravishing, thought-provoking and wholly singular filmgoing experience that stands as my favorite movie of the year so far. (While that may not sound like high praise in early April, keep in mind that I’ve already seen what I would consider an unusual number of great or near-great films in 2014 including: The Strange Little Cat, A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness, Nymphomaniac Vol. 1,

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12 thoughts on “Now Playing: Under the Skin

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  1. Not sure this film will be coming to my neck of the woods but I definitely will look out for it when it’s out on rental. Sounds intriguing and I’ve warmed up to Scarlett over the years 🙂


    1. Me, too. There were too many films where her acting seemed mediocre at best. I think she’s growing up and I like that she’s taking on edgier, intriguing roles like ‘Her’ and this one, for example.


      1. I REALLY like Scarlett in HER, which is interesting as despite her not being physically present, I thought that was one of her best performances!


  2. I went to see this last week, and plan to see it again this evening. Stark, beautiful, eerie. Little to no dialogue; it is a director’s forte, and Glazer’s direction reminds a bit of Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Drive” or “Valhalla Rising”; indeed, in the latter, the lead character never speaks! But unlike them, there is no excitement here, in the sense of fast-paced action, and little that is overtly sexy without also being simultaneously unsettling. I wonder that Glazer may have modeled Johansson’s appearance a bit on Daryl Hannah’s character “Pris,” from Ridley Scott’s epic “Blade Runner” of 1982. Similar dress and the same waifish sexuality, but not the nervous chattiness: Johansson’s character speaks only to identify her target; e.g., “Are you from around here?” or “Do you have family?”, or to seduce, in few words; e.g., “I like your hands,” or, “Do you think I’m pretty?” Later her words drop off altogether and Johansson’s nonverbal acting and the director’s cuts of the Scottish landscape – beautiful, yet cold, rainy, and mist-obscured – must carry the viewer along to speculate what is going on; what she is thinking, and who really is “under the skin.” I thought the soundtrack could have been a bit stronger in this regard, but thinking again of “Blade Runner,” Mica Levi is clearly not Vangelis. It’s a very small criticism, though; this is the best movie I have seen this year, and for quite some time.


    1. John, I value your intellect and opinion and thank you for sharing. I think you are no doubt correct with Glazer heavily influenced by ‘Bladerunner’ and I’m soooo happy there’s a film out there worth watching. I hope it gets to my area soon. I don’t want to wait. Thanks 🙂


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