Sunday, April 27, 2014

3 Thoughts on Under the Skin


1. The human experience - I haven't read too much about the movie yet, as I'm still processing it, but I did skim a few articles about Under the Skin being a "feminist sci-fi" film. As a feminist and a film fan, I can pretty much find feminist or anti-feminist subtext in any film in existence. This film is a little more obvious in its "empowered female" role, however it also has a subtle hint of anti-feminist sentiment (a woman who is comfortable in her own sexuality and seeks men out, is obviously a psychopath). However, I don't think that is what this movie is about...at all. It's about the human experience; the loneliness, the confusion and the strange connection we all share as "humans". The story develops into the female experience, as the character is in a female body, and what's the one emotion that females share? Fear. While the main character is alien, it is the one with the power; it is something for men to fear. As soon as it begins to embrace its human form, which is female, she no longer has the power. She has someone take advantage of her - this man that "helps" her, as nice as he seems, also expects sex in return. Then, she is forced into the world, alone and confused, only to experience true evil. Sadly, this is the human experience for about half of the population.

2. The human experiment - One of the most interesting things I find about this movie is its use of "real people". I didn't know this while watching it, but it answers a lot of questions I had. One being, why make Scarlett Johansson wear that awful, unflattering wig? It makes sense that she was "undercover" in a way; seeking out real men to give her directions. The other question I had while watching was, why Scotland? The location works for a few reasons - first, as much as the wig hides Johansson's bombshell appearance, her face is still so unique - I don't think they could get away with her being "undercover" in America. Second, I don't think many people in America would stop for her. We are way too suspicious of people (for good reason), a beautiful woman offering a complete stranger a ride is most definitely a trap. Third, Scotland is a fucking beautiful backdrop for a movie. The only issue, for me, is that I had a hard time understanding the accent. I have a hard time with dialogue of any accent, anyway, it's not a hearing issue it's more of a brain issue. I don't know if it's considered a form of ADD, or what, but I have a hard time focusing on dialogue, I understand films better when I can put subtitles on. So, having the characters talk in a thick Scottish accent was a really frustrating experience for me (my friend couldn't understand it either, so that makes me feel a little better). Most of the dialogue that I couldn't understand was about directions, so I don't think it matters, but it's still annoying. Even though I had a hard time with it, I really like that most of the people talking weren't talking for an audience or a camera. The idea of using real people, who have no idea that they are being filmed, is a completely fascinating experiment that worked absolutely brilliantly.

3. The human involvement - In order to really experience this film, you have to immerse yourself in it. It's so bizarre and unique; if you just watch it for a basic level of entertainment, I don't think it will work for you. The film relies on sound, more so than dialogue (which is good, for the reason above, and also Johansson's accent equals terrible) and it's incredible. The music is hauntingly beautiful, and it will figuratively get "under the skin". It's also really visually beautiful  - there are some elements and images that I guarantee you've never seen before and you will never, ever forget. The first "seduction" scene blew my mind - so creepy, so stunning. The whole movie is simply indescribable.

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