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Under the Skin

Fatal Femmes

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Jonathan Glazer’s extraordinary 2013 film Under the Skin, very loosely based on Michel Faber’s novel of the same name, may have been released into cinemas nine years ago, but the remarkable images, sounds and sequences from this singular film still feel as fresh as if it were yesterday. An unsettling, beguiling, wholly unique experience, this is a film which, as the title suggests, will get under your skin, and linger there for a long time afterward.

“An unsettling, beguiling, wholly unique experience”

The film opens with a beautiful but unidentified woman (a career-best performance from Scarlett Johansson) driving around the Scottish countryside and luring unsuspecting men into her white transit van. With her come-hither eyes, ruby red lips and disarming chat, it is clear that she is on a mission of sorts, but her motives remain unclear. This is a film which at times feels like it’s inventing an entirely new cinematic language; its eye-searing images and incredible sound design (including Mica Levi’s celebrated score) is the work of a supremely confident director surrounded by a creative team at the top of their game.

Using professional and non-professional actors and shot on location all around Scotland (often guerrilla-style), Glazer infuses this other-worldly film with a sense of grim reality which will be very familiar to many of us. Under the Skin ultimately shares much in common with its central character – it is something of an enigma, but a beautiful, heart-breaking, seductive and ultimately disturbing one at that.