Under the Skin

“Here’s a recent one that I felt I sorta missed the boat on. When it was out (in limited release, but easily available to me in Boston), I hadn’t really heard much about it until it started to disappear. There was a general “”that’s a good movie”” buzz, but not enough for me to want to put what would now be effort into finding it. I figured I could always watch the DVD. And that’s what I did, putting it on a wishlist and keeping an eye on the price until I just had to get it. Then, I got obsessed with Mr Robot this summer. When talking about influences on the show, so many of my favorite movies came up: Fight Club, American Psycho, A Clockwork Orange. Under the Skin also came up a few times, which cranked it up my priority list, if it was part of a conversation that involved all those others.

Does it hold up next to those sacred films for me? Eh. I was more confused than impressed. It just seemed like not a lot was happening, and when things did happen, I didn’t fully grasp what they were. Scarlett Johanssen is the nameless and mysterious woman at the focus of the film. She drives around Scotland interacting with seemingly lonely men, some of whom she brings back to her lair for some mysterious and possibly nefarious purpose. Who/what is she and why is she doing that? Well, not of that is ever really clear.

Some of the synopsis for the film do begin with an assumption of who/what she is, but I’m on the fence about whether or not it’s a spoiler. I think I would have been even more lost had I not known what I knew, which helped me dismiss some of her stranger behavior. But would some of the later events have had a greater impact if there was a surprise? Maybe, but it would still hinge on how well I could follow it up to there.

It’s a great performance for her, leading a film by relying more on emotion and expression than dialog. That’s one thing that was always unanimous among all the things I’d heard about it. But clearly much of the film was just lost on me, as I didn’t seem to enjoy or appreciate it as much as I was led to believe I would have. Oh well, there’ll be other movies. God knows I do see enough of ’em.”

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