Close Up

19 - 27 August 2022: Under the Skin


Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer, 2013, 108 min

"Jonathan Glazer’s protracted gestation (nine years) in bringing Michael Faber’s cult novel down to earth and into festivals (theatres would be a reach, as distribution could prove a challenge for this anomaly) signals a perfectionist at work or a project better off abandoned, and Under The Skin equivocally bears out both possibilities. Ostensibly science fiction in spirit, the narrative as such begins in a state of milky galactic twilight – diaphanous spheres pulsing to spectral breaths, signifying extraterrestrial transmission of sorts – before descending to the Scottish countryside, where a female corpse is dutifully extracted from a bog by a brooding motorcyclist. In a white-light chamber resembling an off-hours James Turrell installation, the protagonist-alien loosely embodied by Johansson swaps herself into a new skin (or at least the deceased’s tights and heels) and embarks by white cargo van into Glasgow’s ashen streets and the Scottish highlands looking for male flesh to export." – Jay Kuehner