Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin (2013) is one of those films that I love re-watching. It’s an unforgettable and unashamedly strange film that will stick in your mind for a very long time. To describe the film’s synopsis using a previous post of mine: It tells the story of a beautiful female alien (Scarlett Johansson) who arrives in Scotland with a job to do. She is charged with the task of seducing lonely men and taking them to her home, but for what purpose? Over the course of the film, one of her conquests leads her towards a process of self-discovery that neither she nor the audience would ever have predicted.
I had the chance to re-watch Under the Skin very recently and I was blown away by how much I love it. Not only was I still impressed by Scarlett Johansson’s performance, I continue to be surprised by the fact that she starred in this film in the first place. It seems like such a strange choice, yet she fits the role perfectly. The score by Mica Levi in particular always strikes me as a genius move; alien noises that suit the film’s contents to a tee.
However, it’s the visuals that get me every time with this film. For a film that spent a hellish ten years in production, they appear to have made the best of those ten years by ensuring that the best talent possible was involved with the film’s creative aspects. Jonathan Glazer, whose filmography consists mostly of music videos, enlisted the talent of cinematographer Daniel Landin to ensure that the film looks as gorgeous as it does. The majority of Landin’s filmography is also music videos for bands such as Radiohead, Garbage, David Bowie and Björk; all innovative artists with defined visual identities.
Under the Skin captures not only some stellar acting by Johansson and an amateur supporting cast, but also some visually beautiful and visually repulsive moments; and sometimes a mixture between the two. I am always so impressed by the fact that the film not only shoots its intergalactic drama in such an intense and engaging manner, but also that Glazer and Landin managed to capture some sprawling and evocative shots of nature as well, with one particular shot of sea spray curling up in the wind being my highlight. This film has the perfect combination of a well-shot story, and beautifully-shot context for the story.
Here is a selection of my favourite shots from Under the Skin, mixed up to avoid spoilers (hopefully). However, I implore you to watch this film as soon as possible if you haven’t yet, as the film is so gorgeous in motion.
Watch the trailer here.