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Movie review: Under the Skin

This Jonathan Glazer film might be a bit...experimental, but it's worth a watch.

April 19, 2014 | 12:49 a.m. CST

There are some things everyone should know before seeing Under the Skin. Some of the patrons who showed up for Ragtag's first showing of the film were woefully unprepared for what they were about to witness.

Jonathan Glazer's first film since 2004's Sexy Beast, Under the Skin is an intriguing albeit, disturbing piece of minimalist film.

Viewers may have heard that Scarlett Johansson's nameless lead character is an alien. That's true. But don't go in expecting some sort of creature feature. Don't even go in expecting a lot of dialogue. Or plot, for that matter.

What viewers can expect is an art piece.

The film is fantastically scored, with the soundtrack compensating for anything lost by lulls in action or dialogue. It's also beautifully shot. Each scene in Johansson's "lair" is mesmerizing and employs computer-generated imagery in the best way. What precedes the floating skin image in the trailer is terrifying, but fascinating.

The fact of the matter is that sometimes nothing happens. Yet, Glazer manages to keep the viewer transfixed on Johansson.

However, when there is action, it's meaningful. Under the Skin is a study in humanity. It begs the question "what makes us who we are?" without ever actually asking. Johansson, though not at her best, manages to communicate the inner turmoil of a being trying to become someone, and something, else. The result is a haunting, though not unpleasant, experience.

While certainly not for everyone, Under the Skin warrants at least one watch for those willing to look beyond the draws of more straightforward films. As for me, I'll definitely be back for another look.

Vox Rating: V V V V

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