I was so looking forward to Under The Skin that I was determined to ignore my own skeptisicm’s sardine breath and white knuckle it through any nagging preemptory suspicions.
Damn you, suspicion. You’re so often right. So spoiler alert; Scarlett Johansson is a nameless alien predator inhabiting a busty (is there any other kind?) earthgirl’s corpus. That shouldn’t ruin the film for you, unless I then blurted out that’s all, folks, and rolled credits. Which is what someone might as well have done twenty minutes into the thing because Under The Skin isn't really the piece of brilliantly-executed originality that I was sold, and this is obvious right from the stuttering opening sequence.
All of which would be fine things indeed if Alien Scarlett could offer much to our scrutiny. I suppose she looks a bit wonky when wide-angled from below, and lipstick application is an arcane thing, but little is confessed or projected beyond Johansson’s terribly obvious surface. Her performance feels so rootless and under-directed that I fought the urge to feed the poor thing lines in the hope it would prod her out of wandering and pouting. And taking off her shit, jesus. That Under The Skin was penned and directed by dudes is a notion that intruded pretty quickly and the volume of lingering and tenuously-motivated nudity had even my male partner chuckling; yes, we get the whole tangled web of visual reference thing, but they just should have called it Here’s Some Tits so you Wont Admit it was Boring. That doesn’t put you off, does it? Sigh.
So yeah- not a dead loss, but a big disappointment. That the thing was shamelessly oversold in the midst of a weird-shit drought is not exculpatory and nor was it a contribution to our shared impression of generalised paucity and tediousness, and those are harsh words indeed from people with a lot of time for digression, rough edges and honest imperfections. That, and there is a wide stripe of insistent and quite icky cruelty in UTS that is neither explicitly motivated nor especially revelatory, leaving me with the need to wash my mental hands a few times afterwards and as there's no compelling reason to subject oneself to it, the sensitive and empathetic should probably consider themselves warned. If you’ve sipped Johansson’s Kool Aid you might enjoy her stilted antics, but she’s so much like McConaughey in her single-trick fuckery that I just couldn’t lie back and take it, especially in something so utterly dependant on finesse and transparency. She could have slapped us all with the delicious prismatic irony of her very presence in this thing- if she’d had the chops to testify on her own behalf. Apologists might ponder that, if nothing else. A lot of people seemed to love Under The Skin, because... I don't know... bewbs? I'm told they're popular.