I decided to try Under the Skin because it was Science Fiction and starring Scarlett Johansson. I have no idea how I sat through the entire movie. I have never been into “artsy” movies and this one comforted me in this inclination. I don’t mind a contemplative aspect to some narratives, like Kubrick’s 2001, A Space Odyssey (which is about the only Kubrick I like) or The Double Life of Veronique by Kieslowski. Yet, this one just bored me and I found it extremely creepy.
I couldn’t stand the main musical theme. It gave me goosebumps in a bad way. I found it irritating and it sounded like an audio gimmick more than anything else. Johansson was great as this visiting alien and on a side note. She looks so different as a brunette. One thing that puzzled me which had nothing to do with the narrative, was how grateful I was to watch it with subtitles. While no native English speaker, I am normally comfortable with many different accents, but I had a hard time understanding quite a few people in this movie. It was confusing as I’m not used to this at all!
The movie is R-rated for the nudity and sexual content. I don’t see what the nudity gives to the narrative at all. It just feels voyeuristic. One could say that most nudity is male and that it is thus different from how women’ bodies are so often objectified. Yet, women’s bodies could perfectly not being objectified anymore without having to toss gratuitous male nudity. The two aren’t necessarily related. The female body is just as objectified and showed as “other” in this movie as it is in mainstream media. I have nothing against intimate/sexual aspects in plot lines, but most of the movie seems to revolve around it, and I dare to believe there is more to humanity than sex.
She almost has no interaction with other women, save for the bunch who drags her to the club. This is also a rather disappointing aspect of the narrative.
The way the alien explores her humanity seems very narrow-minded as she spends most of the movie as a seductress who preys on men, thus embodying the trope of the temptress. I feel that she could have tried to find herself differently, or maybe this was all she understood from our human Western media, which might also be a possibility and would be even more depressing. The way she explores more of herself, her possible human kind with the man who is nice to her is so cliché as well, as if she was a damsel in distress waiting for prince charming or the first who might resemble the concept that she finds. When the female lead gets worried when she can’t have intercourse and runs to look at her genitals as if something was wrong, it was disheartening as well. The female body seems to be “alien” even more than the actual one. Having her face a male sexual predator at the end of the movie didn’t improve the so called ‘self discovery’ journey and I don’t see how encountering this could make the alien understand her own possible humanity better. After being sexually assaulted for the second time, the main character removes her human skin and looks at her human face (which still blinks eyes in a disturbing way) and is killed by her attacker who returned to burn her alive, making this violence sexist and racist (as he got scared when tearing apart some of her human skin and seeing the other underneath).
I saw reviews saying that you’ll either love or hate Under The Skin. I really don’t plan to watch it again. One viewing was more than enough and I am not planning to include this in my current or future research and writing projects. I don’t recommend this movie at all, and finds it horribly misogynistic.