UNDER THE SKIN

While accurate, to dismiss Jonathan Glazer’s unorthodox alien sci-fi as enigmatic is a simplistic exercise in reductionism, but also the easiest. Though tangential, comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey were inevitable, they would prove only insofar as creative intent. What Kubrick sought to ask would ultimately eclipse what his epic attempted to answer. Glazer’s film toys with similar obscurities, except two arguments could be made for and against his effort adapting Under the Skin to the screen. Stacked against the Starchild’s trajectory, for one, said ambiguity is backloaded. Put another way, and notwithstanding source material, Scarlett Johansson’s alien has no backstory to glean any moral or emotional reference from. And, two, the very same obtusity could be misconstrued here as a deliberate narrative cop-out, and it was largely behind the film’s lack of mainstream appeal. It was a colossal commercial failure, although that is another topic. But just as easily this charge could be overlooked as another among the plethora of misinterpreted reactions the film has spawned, not in the least because the similarities to Kubrick’s Space Odyssey are, um, (rising Valley girl tone) tangential? The two films are narrative contrasts to even remotely qualify as kin. Continue reading