The third week in a series of late night sci-fi film screenings, hosted by The Watershed, featured Jonathan Glazer’s critically acclaimed Under the Skin (2013, rated 15) starring Scarlett Johansson.
The evening began at 9pm at The Watershed’s resident café/bar. The room was dark, a starry night sky time lapse projection by Alex Cherney (STARMUS 2014 festival winner) lit up the roof, and music by Flying Lotus and Portishead played loudly, creating the right atmosphere to get people into the mood before the film.
Seating for the film started around 11pm, and discordant ambient sounds played eerily through the speakers until everyone was seated. Under the Skin features the protagonist, Scarlett Johansson, as an alien creature in human skin, roaming the streets of Scotland in a white van attempting to seduce men and destroy them. The scenes in which she approaches men in her van are done with hidden cameras and they are not actors. The knowledge of this when watching the film is completely priceless and a fact most of the audience were aware of. If nothing else, watching unsuspecting men under the impression that a disguised Scarlett Johansson was genuinely asking them if they were single is alone worth seeing this film.
The cinematography is interesting; the scenes of the city and streets somehow blend a gritty urban atmosphere whilst still feeling dreamy and soft – Trainspotting meets Lost in Translation.
However, Under the Skin is repetitive, slow and enigmatic. You don’t know what’s quite happening at the start of the film, and you don’t leave much more enlightened at the end. It’s putting across a message about human nature through abstract symbolism and nothing about it is obvious. To enjoy it, you’d have to let go any desire of plot or concrete understanding of what’s actually happening in the film.
By Aneeqa Munir