Ambiguity ... It's A Trip!

Under The Skin (2014)
A Review By Ben Hunter
2½ Out Of 5 Stars
April 4, 2014


When you get so artsy that you become too ambiguous … “Huston we have a problem!”


In the eerie roads of Scotland, present day, a woman (Scarlett Johansson) takes the clothes from an unconscious woman, kidnapped by a motorcyclist.  Continuing in this manner, the woman, Johansson, seduces men off the street, takes them back to her apartment, and they disappear forever, falling into a dark liquid where the apartment transforms into black abyss and the woman never touches them.  We learn more about the woman as she tries to gag down a slice of cake, stops immediately in the middle of sex examining her vaginal area, and fears for her life while an attempt at rape is made.  She’s definitely an outsider and not familiar with the way of our world.  So we progress in this story seeing our world through her eyes and discover who she really is. 

Well, at least we try to.  Writer/Director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth) shows us the art of ambiguity in all of its glory in Under The Skin.  The guy next to me in the theater, a stranger, couldn’t help but blurt out to me “man this movie is testing my patience!”  To which I quickly nodded in agreement.  Ambiguous ambiguous ambiguous!  “What do you think this means?  What do you think that means?  … Who cares, the point is I got you talking and thinking about it.”  Exactly why I wasn’t on the bandwagon for Christopher Nolan’s Inception. 

Critics loved this film as it relays the majority of its information, I’d say about 90% (yeah that much), without dialogue (words).  A fact I ABSOLUTELY LOVE in film!  Wall-E is one of my top ten ALL TIME favorites for this very reason amongst others.  But with Under The Skin, I get “Artsy … way too artsy!  Just tell me what the hell you mean!”  Something I should never say or feel.  To want the artist to “dumb it down” for me and go backwards with my progression in culture and learning and such instead of forward … well you get the picture.

Scarlett will forever be my girl.  She’s the reason why this film receives any kind of extra push higher in my ratings for it or the reason why I find something I can say I actually liked to the fullest extent.  I loved her seduction of the various men.  The eerie mood this film puts one in though does its job and doesn’t let me get aroused by this seduction.  She even opens up a sexually inexperienced man with a facial deformity.  All weird, all eerie, all gave me the “creeped out” feeling.  So the film does its job in that sense.   Glazer accomplished what I feel he set out to, and that’s make us see the world through this “stranger’s” eyes. 

I just wished I didn’t feel like I was glad it was over, when it finally was. 

Under The Skin
Drama, 108 Minutes, R
Based Upon the Novel by: Michel Faber
Written by: Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer
Directed by: Jonathan Glazer
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay

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