Sunday, July 20, 2014

Movie review -- Under the Skin

I don't usually get to do reviews of movies that are in current release or very recently released, but I caught this on pay-per-view last night and thought I'd give it a go.

The movie opens with what seems to be a overly drawn out obtuse visual and audio sequence. I think it becomes more clear once you get the reveal at the end of the flick, but it gives me a sort of 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe.

Afterwards we see a motorcycle zooming around the highways and streets, the rider wearing that head-to-toe leather and padding outfit that seems more popular in Europe than here in America. He skids to a stop, dismounts and marches determinedly into the brush alongside the road. He quickly returns with the limp body of a girl draped over his shoulder and tosses her into the back of a large white van.

The scene cuts to a vast, feature-less all white space where the girl (dead, we're to assume, I think) is dumped on the floor. An all nude Scarlett Johansson appears and undresses her then puts on the girl's clothing, pausing only to stare at the corpse then pluck a small ant off the body and observe it.

Johansson's character then drives the van (one of those odd, tall & skinny vans we see in Europe) into town and enters a mall and buys some clothes. What she took off the dead girl looked a bit like hooker wear -- ripped stockings, short mini-skirt, etc. Now she's clad in skin-tight jeans, a delicate red top, furry jacket and some killer boots.

Perhaps less not-a-hooker wear than simply not yucky from being on a dead girl lying in the scrub brush.  heh

Suitably attired, Johansson begins driving around trying to pick up guys. Random, but not entirely. I should point out here that we may be 15 minutes into the film and not a word has been spoken yet. Very artsy.

When she does speak, Johansson is affecting a light British accent. The movie is set in Scotland, so the locals . . . well, . . . we here in America get used to a certain accent from Scots, Irish and Brits in movies. Think Sean Connery, Liam Neeson, James McAvoy, Idris Elba, etc. The Scots in this movie, are speaking the real, down home thing. And quite frankly, I couldn't understand a word they said the entire movie. Seriously. When Johansson's character is asking for directions to the M8, the guy's reply was just gibberish to me. And I don't mean that as an insult to Scots, I just couldn't dig through his accent and syntax. At one point he says, "This may be hard to follow." Meaning his directions of course, and I just laughed out loud.

I'm sure the director did this on purpose, but to what end? The movie might as well have been subtitled or dialog-less for me.  weird

Anyway, she finally finds a guy and drives him back to a crappy looking building where they enter. The building is as completely black and empty as it was white and empty in the opening sequence. Johansson backs away from the guy pealing off her clothes while he comes toward her doing the same. She ends up in jeans and a bra while he ends up fully naked. Put off by full frontal male nudity? Yeah, this flick ain't for you, bro.

But the guy keeps walking and slowly sinks into the floor which seems to be some sort of black or deep dark blue, thick viscous liquid. He continues to walk, entranced by Johansson, until he is fully submerged. She then walks back over the same area, now solid, collects her clothes, redresses, and leaves.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

That seems to be Johansson's character's thing -- find random guys, get them back to this place, and sink them in the floor. There is no malice in her character. The "seduction" is little more than her verbally convincing these guys to come with her. In fact, I doubt Johansson speaks more than a page's worth of dialog in the entire movie. The majority of her screen time is spent either staring blankly at whatever's going on around her or donning a fish out of water mildly confused expression.

The beginning two thirds of the movie focuses on her search for guys while driving the van around Scotland. The majority of the van interior scenes are shot from the passenger floorboard angle. And she clicks and unclicks her seatbelt so much, I wondered if there was some hidden meaning there.

At one point we do see one of the guys floating under the floor. He can see upwards, watching Johansson walking out. And he sees another victim floating before him. He watches as the guy seems to lose all his interior organs, bones, etc., eventually becoming simply an empty human skin floating in the emptiness.

Things continue in this fashion until Johansson picks up a dude with what looks to be Neurofibromatosis (the Elephant Man disease). Watching her entice this poor guy into coming back with her, via the promise of being with a woman for the first time, was uncomfortable to me. Perhaps part of why it was in the film. But after sinking him in the floor, something goes wrong. Johansson stops on her way out and sees . . . something, about herself in a mirror. We see the guy running naked out the front door and into the scrub brush towards some houses. The motorcycle guy comes racing into the neighborhood and catches the little guy climbing through a fence, stuffs him into the trunk of a stolen car, then races off.

Whatever happened with the little guy knocks Johansson's charcter off kilter. She begins to wander aimlessly, eventually abandoning her van and simply walking down one road after another. Various little events occur to make us wonder what's up with her. She tries to eat a bit of cake and throws it up. Tries to have sex with a kind stranger, doesn't work. And all the while, her motorcycle guardian (partner, whatever) now has two others helping him and they're zooming around the highways searching for her.

The movie ends as Johansson's character is wandering through a 2000 acre managed woods and is attacked by a pervy type and rape is attempted. We get the big reveal here, right before the movie ends.

The film is writen and directed by Jonathan Glazer from a novel by Michael Faber. I don't know if Glazer is supposed to be considered a visionary or auteur or what, but I wasn't bowled over by this flick. There is no drama or mystery here and frankly, I wonder if anyone would bother to watch the movie if it didn't have the novelty of Scarlett Johansson fully nude in it. That's what drove me to it.

And a word about that. I've posted before about Johansson and the crazy fawning over her by magazines, blogs, etc. I've always loved her unconventional beauty -- her face is astounding. But I've not ever found her body to be that jaw dropping. She has a short waisted look (that's what we called it in the old days) that makes her look dumpy, even when she isn't really. She's curvy and has some meat on her bones, and that ain't a bad thing. She's got an impressive booty that allows her to rock the hell out of a tight skirt or jeans and you'll see in the images below, she looks really good. Just not in profile. Something about the way she is shaped, it doesn't flatter her to be photographed from the side.

All in all, I'm not overwhelmed by this movie. There are a lot of questions -- Why only men? Why is the room white for the dead girl but black for men? What is the purpose for her character? What is the motorcycle guy's connection to Johansson's character? I guess it makes good water cooler talk, but is there supposed to be a deeper meaning here? I don't know. My conclusion -- I wouldn't advise someone to spend $5 on a pay-per-view. If it comes on regular cable, I'd say watch it for yourself and puzzle along with me. But basically . . . meh.

Here's some screen caps of Miss Scarlett naked. I did what I could to clean them up, but the quality isn't fabulous:

scarlett johansson nude in under the skin
scarlett johansson nude in under the skin
scarlett johansson nude in under the skin
scarlett johansson nude in under the skin

Did you find this review helpful? Check out my other reviews for my thoughts on the flicks and the occasional gallery of hotness that accompanies them:


Anonymous said...

FYI, a couple of those links don't work. Liked the review otherwise.

postaldog said...

Yeah, I don't know what's up with that. For some reason the url's keep changing as the blog gets older. Guess I'll have to update all the posts each time I do a review.

Thanks for mentioning that and for commenting :-)