Review: ‘Under The Skin’ (MA) ??? and ?

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IT’S hard to encapsulate an accurate description of co-writer (with Walter Campbell, adapting a novel by Michael Faber) and director Jonathan Glazer’s second big-screen film, in which Scarlett Johansson plays a being from an unspecified world, seeking sexual fulfilment on earth while driving around Edinburgh and environs.

Cinema staff told me that a friend reviewing for another paper after seeing it earlier summed it up as “kinky”. As you may infer from the question marks evaluating its merits, my summation is “enigma”.

The alien has a trio of acolytes who fang around the city and surrounding countryside on motorcycles for purposes never made quite clear but inviting us to interpret as dealing with her lees. The film conveys a bleak view of a Scottish winter, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful in its harshness, and a populace concerned only for its own comfort, which is not unreasonable. When the alien trips on a kerb, passers-by pause briefly then keep going.

The dialogue is sparse. Ms Johansson copes admirably with a challenging physical workload in a demanding environment. Much of it happens at night, filmed in available light. Landscape shots rural and urban extend a guarded invitation to the filmgoer to ponder what Glazer in particular wants to tell us.

I apologise for not giving more information about this one, but there’s not all that much to offer. Over to you.

At Palace Electric

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