WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
2nd Viewing, Screened at The Frida Cinema
Best coming of age movie ever???
I’m still baffled to this day that Under the Skin is not considered a sci-fi masterpiece at the ranks of 2001: A Space Odyssey. You heard me correctly. I said it.
Then again, it did take Kubrick’s marvelous feat a tedious amount of time to become widely accepted as one of the greats.
Couple theories on what exactly this movie could morally mean…
One, the film is ultimately about introversion. It’s a metaphysical depiction of what it’s like to feel cut off from the world or what it’s like to be someone who doesn’t quite grasp humanity. There seems to be an ongoing disconnect between Laura and the people, and while she does begin to puzzle out the functions of humans and their relationships, she ends up detesting them by the end, as she, the pure creature, is powerless to fathom the cruelty of mankind. It’s the equivalent to people who rather stay enclosed than allow themselves to reckon with the harsher truths of the outside world.
Two, this entire movie is a metaphor for an innocent girl coming to her senses about innate male sexual desires for females, and the trauma that comes with it. At the beginning of Under the Skin, when Laura is born, she almost instantaneously is programmed to seduce men into coming to her place to essentially be harvested by the aliens she works for—this alone could say a lot about the unacceptable role some women are raised to play. However, the film makes it thoroughly clear that she is unconscious of why the men want her, and more so, just numbly going through the motions of what she was made to do. Later in the movie, as she begins to understand humans, she, on multiple occasions, begins to supposedly apprehend the loneliness that comes with these men who want to have sex with her. This loneliness not only ties in with a parallel to her own situation, but it makes her begin to feel related to some of these men. At the end of the film, unfortunately, a man attempts to rape her, and it ends in her being burnt alive, almost mimicking the emotions she now has as to realizing what men would go through to be with someone else—something horrendous she herself, could never imagine doing to another being. It almost distresses her of her own desires to connect while vaguely indicating her hatred and inability to accept humanity’s way of solution. Thus, an early death is the way her species will always end up at as they roam Earth. Rarely do we ever sit back and wonder if an alien species were to encounter us, would they see our ways as animalistic and cruel? It seems we fail to acknowledge that intelligence is likely a wildcard out there in the rest of the universe, and our own planet could be up for grabs of interpretations galore by those who can see it from a distance.
Three, like my first theory, the movie is strictly about the feelings you get when you are lonely. From countless scenes that blurt the meaning in your face like the shot where the baby whose parents just died is seen crying on the beach alone. Or, from countless recurring sub-themes like the revulsion of physical ugliness that the deformed man received or Laura received at the very end of the film when her true form is exposed. These are evidential signals that can aid us at mastering what exactly Jonathon Glazer may be saying in Under the Skin on what he perceives the experience of loneliness can come from or mentally emote.
Theories aside, I do furthermore find Under the Skin to be a technical wonder next to also being an ambiguous cinematic mind-challenge. Mica Levi’s recurring score theme is at a legendary level of petrifying. Scarlett Johansson is officially the most terrifying extraterrestrial ever, and that was a tricky maneuver to pull off considering she looks like Scarlett Johansson. Jonathon Glazer directed his entire soul into making every frame of this movie look like unconventional eye-candy; the opening to this movie is still an all-time favorite of mine that enhances Kubrick’s flair. Besides nitpicks, to me and hopefully to many more people in the future, Under the Skin is one of the greatest science-fiction films ever concocted. Please, cinephiles, give it the love and attention it deserves.
All-Time Favorites, A24 Ranked
“Under the Skin” is now available to stream on Vudu, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, and Netflix.