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Under the Skin

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Under the Skin is a science fiction film of 2013 directed by Jonathan Glazer and based on the 2000 novel of the same name by Michel Faber. The film stars Scarlett Johansson and follows the alien story who assumes the appearance of a human woman to seduce and captivate men.

The film was praised for its haunting atmosphere, breathtaking visuals and Johansson’s performance. The film was also praised for its innovative soundtrack and non-linear storytelling. However, the film was also criticized for its dark and cryptic storyline, which made it difficult for some viewers to understand the full meaning of the film.

The plot follows the alien (played by Johansson) as she prowls the streets of Glasgow, seduces men and leads them to a secluded house where they are swallowed up in a pool of liquid. Over the course of the film, the alien begins to develop empathy for humans and a desire to better understand their nature.

In general, Under the Skin is an experimental and alienating film that defies audience expectations. Although it may be difficult to follow, the film offers a unique and unforgettable cinematic experience for those willing to immerse themselves in its surreal atmosphere.

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Plot

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The storyline of “Under the Skin” follows an alien (played by Scarlett Johansson) who assumes the appearance of a human woman to seduce and capture men.

The film opens with the alien stealing the identity of a woman who died in a car accident. Wearing the woman’s clothes, the alien goes out into the streets of Glasgow looking for men to seduce. After tricking some men, he leads them to an isolated house where they are swallowed up in a sort of liquid puddle.

The alien also meets a disabled man, who she tries to seduce but in the end spares him. The encounter with the man changes the alien and leads her to start exploring the world of human beings. As the alien moves through the city and experiences human emotions, she begins to understand the fragility of human existence and develop empathy for humans.

The alien continues to search for victims for her planet, but her interactions with humans lead her to reflect on her behavior.

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Movie Characters

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The film “Under the Skin” mainly features two characters:

The Alien: played by Scarlett Johansson, she is an alien who takes on the appearance of a human woman to seduce and capture men. At the beginning of the film, she is completely emotionless and fully focused on her mission. However, her interactions with humans lead her to develop an empathy for them, which leads her to question her behavior.

The disabled man: played by Adam Pearson, is a man with a congenital disease that causes facial deformities. The alien meets him during one of his excursions in search of victims and tries to seduce him, but in the end spares him. The encounter with the man changes her and leads her to start exploring the world of human beings.

Other characters in the film are the men the alien tries to seduce and capture, as well as some mysterious figures that appear throughout the film, but are never fully explained.

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Production

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The film “Under the Skin” was directed by Jonathan Glazer and produced by Nick Wechsler and James Wilson. The screenplay was written by Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer, based on the novel of the same name by Michel Faber.

The production of the film was particularly complex due to the experimental and alienating nature of the film. Much of the film was shot in natural light conditions and without artificial lighting, using hidden cameras to capture the real reactions of people on the streets.

The casting was guided by an atypical choice: Johansson had never acted in a science fiction film before this film. Also, Johansson’s character doesn’t have a proper name in the film, but is simply referred to as “the alien.”

The film’s soundtrack, composed by Mica Levi, was particularly praised for its innovativeness and its ability to create an eerie, surreal atmosphere.

The film premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival where it received a standing ovation from critics. It was then released theatrically in 2014.

Distribution and Reception

The film ‘Under the Skin’ premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 where it received very positive reviews from critics. Subsequently, the film was released in theaters in 2014.

Critical reception was generally very positive. The film was praised for its formal experimentation, Scarlett Johansson’s performance, Mica Levi’s score, and its ability to create an eerie, surreal atmosphere. However, some critics found the film overly abstract and difficult to follow.

At the box office, the film earned an estimated $8.8 million worldwide on a production budget of approximately $13.3 million. Despite this, the film has gained a cult following and its influence on subsequent cinema has been considerable.

Style

The style of the film “Under the Skin” has been described as experimental and alienating. Director Jonathan Glazer has used a number of techniques to create a surreal and disturbing atmosphere.

One of the techniques used in the film is the use of hidden cameras to capture the real reactions of the people in the streets. This gave the film a documentary feel and made the scenes where the alien interacts with humans feel particularly authentic.

Furthermore, the film features a strong attention to visual and aural details. Daniel Landin’s photography is very sophisticated, with images in natural light that move between the abstract and the concrete. The soundtrack by Mica Levi, in which the sound is distorted and manipulated, helps to create a disturbing and alienating atmosphere.

Finally, the film was praised for its ability to suggest rather than explain. Scenes are often disconnected from the plot and not fully explained, leaving the audience free to interpret the story and characters in their own way. This made the film particularly interesting for an audience fond of experimental and avant-garde cinema.

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Director

Jonathan Glazer, born in 1965 in London, is the director of “Under the Skin”. Prior to directing films, he worked as a music video and commercial director. He has directed several music videos for artists such as Radiohead, Massive Attack and Jamiroquai, as well as a number of commercials for major brands such as Guinness, Levi’s and Stella Artois.

His film debut was in 2000 with the film ‘Sexy Beast’ which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. After ‘Under the Skin’, he directed the film ‘The Fall’ in 2019.

Glazer is known for his visually innovative and experimental style. He is a director attentive to detail and photography, with a strong focus on images and atmospheres. Furthermore, he is known for his collaboration with composer Mica Levi, who composed the soundtracks for both of his latest films.

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