Nerdlocker Film Review: Under the Skin


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This kind of art is a rarity in modern cinema. The average movie goer wants a spoon feeding when it comes to their ideal movie. I don’t mean this as an insult; I am simply trying to convey that this particular film is unlike most anything else and a majority will find it to be boring and pretentious. I can see their argument but I allowed myself to be enveloped by this film, and because I gave into it I saw the beauty of it all. The imagery here screams Stanley Kubrick and its use of images over dialogue is very Kubrick-esque as well. I think I found my personal interpretation of this obscurely striking but also quaint film and that I believe is its true genius; there is not an exact singular point to it all. It asks questions of its audience and expects them to come to their own conclusion. At least this is how I see it, I could be so wrong it will anger people but, oh well.

I will start with the images as the film relies heavily on them to convey its voice. The continuously lingering shots and wordless scenes allow the audience to almost forcefully pay attention. The metaphorical prowess here is greatly used in a manner that makes this something not easily forgotten. The zoomed in shots of an eye, her blank stare and the often desolate environment that surrounds her all have a deeper meaning to them and are most certainly there if you are willing to see through the surface.

This is what I gathered from the film overall; depth or lack of. Whether it is a paranormal figure or the average human, there seems to be a kind of disconnect that is only widening with time. What we as people need and maybe even desire on a conscious level is deeper connection and possibly even love. Despite this often times overwhelming feeling of needing to be closer we instead keep our distance. We only allow for superficial, quick, ready-made encounters with our fellow man. Anyone that’s been alive in this day and age knows all too well the false importance given to superficiality. It’s all about looks, the surface of who we truly are. Since most never allow a deeper connection with those deemed less physically attractive or less important, we are left with shallow shells that resemble human beings. The idea with this film is that there is more to a person than just their physical appearance; there is an entire person underneath that has experienced all manners of life from birth and happiness to death and sadness and all the in-between.

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This lack of empathy for most others around us is beautifully conveyed by its leading lady, Scarlett Johansson. Through her vacant personality an absence of humanness is used to mimic the daily interactions of the average “civilized” person. It’s all surface encounters and what this tries to speak on is that looks account for nothing past a certain point. For example, Johansson’s character enters a restaurant and orders a piece of cake. It looks delicious but upon placing a slice of the cake in her mouth she discovers its hidden disgustingness and immediately spits it out. While this attempts to show that something beyond the average shallow encounter is important, it also shows that even this deeper encounter so yearned for can often account for its own disasters. As her nameless character continues on with her purpose she begins to unexpectedly gain sympathy for certain individuals that she comes across on her journey. In these unanticipated instances she discovers complications that she never could have planned for and because of her unpreparedness she is forced into unimaginable consequences. The point with the topic of above and below the surface is that regardless of the outcome, wanting something meaningful is and should be sought after. The pain of a failed connection is there but possibly so is something far better if given a chance to emerge.

Despite all this hidden meaning, this is first and foremost a science fiction story that just happens to be far more bizarre than most in its genre. It is quickly surmised that Johansson’s character is a being not of this world that has landed to both study us as a species as well as collect specific specimens for horrifying procedures. Her weapon is her stunning good looks; she is after all, Scarlett Johansson. She lures her victims into a sexual encounter where she then disposes of them in a manner that is both other-worldly and extremely disturbing. The basic premise is simple enough for most but it is the hidden underbelly that will throw most off of its scent. The simple concepts of an alien being consuming humans and studying humans is nothing but a vehicle for something greater and if you are easily bored by innuendo and metaphor, steer clear of this one at all costs. This is genius film making but you have to want to search for it and be questioned by it to really see its true nature. As I mull this movie over and over in my head I realize one thing is certain; I loved this movie.

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Rated R For: graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language
Run Time: 108 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Scarlett Johansson
Directed By: Jonathan Glazer

Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls

Check out the trailer below:

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard