NZIFF Review Under The Skin
Under The Skin collects the award for most wilfully bizarre exhibit so far this year at the film festival.
ScarJo, complete with black wig, fur coat and red lippy to the max, cruises the streets of Scotland in a white van trying to find unattached male specimens to lure them to her house, with the promise of sexual conquest.
But when they head there, the would be suitors get more than an eyeful...
Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin is a visual symphony, complete with heaven and hell. Wrapping dissonant crescendo sounds, virtually no dialogue and proffering no answers to what's going on proves to be an intoxicating cinematic feast like never witnessed before.
With shades of Holy Motors, combined with Johansson's allure, the piece is a trippy disturbing spectacle that confuses and confounds as much as it seduces the eye.
Johansson's ethereal otherworldly approach is perfectly utilised in this (and yes, there's plenty of nude Scarlett Johansson to view) - even if it does go off the rails somewhat in its final third.
To reveal why is to spoil it, but those involved really had no choice but to move the film on and it's hard to see what else could have been done as it races to its disturbing conclusion.
Glazer's eye for visuals is astounding - from the opening sequence where a spot moves towards the screen to a final sequence in the Scottish woods that VFX triumph at, there's plenty to help the eyes hallucinate.
But once you scratch Under The Skin (apologies), there's also a rare look at how alienated some feel, a lack of connection and an intimacy that will provoke further discussion.
However, the most nightmarish scene is a simply human one set on a beach that's as completely psychologically traumatising as it is well executed.
Using landscapes, sound and stark visuals to maximise the resonant themes, Glazer has crafted something creepy which is truly unique, completely remarkable and utterly soul quaking.