DELL’S GIRL WEEK BLOGATHON: SCARLETT JOHANSSON IN UNDER THE SKIN

Shout out to Dell who hosted this blogathon which I had fun with a couple of years ago, but unsurprisingly this time around I practiced my profession of procrastination. No matter, late is better than never, right? And I dig the concept, even if I am getting my entry in with mere hours to go. Anyhoos, here is my take on The Female, played by Scarlett Johansson, in Under The Skin.

SPOILERS AHOY!



Under The Skin must feature as having one of the most unique female leads in any film. Not that she really is a female of course, but that is the skin she is wearing and she uses it to her full advantage, pulling alongside drunken football fans and lonely people walking in the cold, sweet-talking them and appearing to be fully human until they leave- her face then seamlessly shifting from smiling brightly to showing nothing at all. Mica Levi’s score thumps along in the background as she drives the streets, scanning for prey. She is even driving a van! The placement of cameras, documentary style, inside the van adds even more heft to this dark atmosphere, as it feels we are spying on The Female and those in the passenger seat, further adding to the overall feeling of alienation. This is compounded further by the fact that she isn’t given a name.

Once she starts to lure her victims into her otherworldly pool of tar, she again is using her sexual allure to alter the judgement of her male visitors as they wallow forward after an undressing Female, lust clouding their minds, seemingly unaware that they are walking into black quicksand. The abductions are brutal in a very… different way, as it is her looks that kill, literally, as she doesn’t lay a hand on their lost, sinking, deflating souls.

The Female clearly changes as the film moves on, becoming more emotionally intelligent. Staring at her reflection in the mirror endlessly, watching the vibrant smiles among the crowds around her, and especially the pity she takes on one man. Soon her demeanor changes towards men and she is taken to bed by one she has just met. This is met with shocking results for her, and it seems clear that her purpose for being on Earth has been confused- she now can see these men as fellow humans inhabiting a body much like hers- but the initiation of sex shocks her violently as she discovers more about her body and its vulnerabilities..

Overlooking this strange operation seems to be an nonspeaking man on a motorbike; despite the feminine power The Female possesses, it seems that she is still reporting to a male. Despite this power she initially wields, it is her fall that proves to be truly fascinating, as she becomes increasingly disillusioned with the reasons keeping her on Earth. Precipitating her destruction is a violent act against her by a man and his terrified reaction. Karma perhaps?

While perhaps not intended to be so, Under The Skin provides some very interesting commentary of the allure of sexiness and how it can be misused, how it can mislead, and ultimately how it can possibly be more of a curse than anything else; the ending to the film would certainly suggest this. It is also interesting that such a powerful creature with such sway over any male she meets still has a male as her superior, though one would guess that he is an alien as well. In a world still dominated by males, it is interesting to watch this film with these themes in mind, as the interactions between The Female and the men she meets are incredibly unique, as she is obviously the one who is manipulative towards them. Ultimately though, it is a male who is her undoing.

16 Comments on “DELL’S GIRL WEEK BLOGATHON: SCARLETT JOHANSSON IN UNDER THE SKIN

  1. I love this movie. And I love your insight into ScarJo’s character. This really makes me want to watch this movie again. I already enjoyed it, but you’ve given me even more things to look for. I particularly didn’t pick up on the potential theme of beauty as a curse. Great job! And thanks so much for taking part!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks to you Dell, I really enjoyed writing about ‘Leloo’ from the Fifth Element a coupla years ago. This though is a whole different type of badass woman, and I again enjoyed analysing it from the perspective I did. I must have seen it at least ten times, could see it another ten more.

      I also find it fascinating that she begins as this alien killer preying on men, but her demise is that of a man acting in a similar way to her.

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  2. I really enjoyed this film. Your critique is interesting. That the alien knows how to seduce her prey and able to jump into the body that will give her food, it is, as you suggested, an interesting critique of beauty and the power it yields. Wasn’t the black liquid world fantastic? I was very impressed with this film.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The black world was very surreal, I loved it. I freaking love this movie, I wish Glazer made more films. Rewatching it for tenth time with the blogathon theme in mind made me realise these elements of gender and beauty, and gender equality, or lack thereof. Despite what she can do, the two people who are… not so nice to her, are men.

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      • Thank you Cindy, you are very kind =]

        I also love doing that, perhaps my favourite thing about movies. I cannot wait to watch The Sacred Killing again as I’m sure I will see so much more than the incredibly effed up tale it tells.

        On another completely unrelated note, I have almost finished my first draft! FINALLY! Up to my last days in the place. When I do finish it I’m not exactly where to go next. Re-edit a second draft myself? Somehow find an editor? I have most of the story down but am now not sure what to do with it

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      • I would get an editor to make sure it’s polished. Then comes the hard part–finding an agent. Or you can self-publish it.
        Congratulations!
        Looking forward to reading it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll self-publish an e-book for sure but I’d love to somehow get it out there proper. I definitely need to re-read and edit it though first as it was written over so many years and the chronology is off, and the tone is all over the shop. I also want to include more visual descriptions too, which is one thing I remember you suggesting

        Liked by 1 person

      • BTW, I forgot to comment on it, but I really liked your post on Blade Runner where you spoke with your daughter about it. Really cool, I need to see it again, sober. I need to get all my bookmarks sorted so I can remember to visit my fave blogs!

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  3. Nice commentary Jordan. Although I found much to appreciate in Johansson’s performance, the movie’s midsection kind of stretched on a bit too long, making the pacing too slow for my liking. But still one of the most ambitious sci-fi films in recent years, and as you mentioned the ending is quite haunting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I can see what you mean about the middle act. Gets as little repetitive. But for me it establishes the subtlety of the way The Female is changing. That’s just me talking out my arse tho =P

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great pick. I’m not sure I agree that being sexy is a curse. There was nothing ScarJo’s character was wearing at the end that would elicit an attack. Even if she was wearing a seductive outfit it shouldn’t either. Plus she was just walking in a Forrest in a big coat. I think the man was going to attack her without caring what she was wearing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that it isn’t or is either way, but it can be 😛 Agree with everything you said, though the whole reason (presumably) that she was sent here was because of how she looked and how that could affect others. Who knows, I love this movie man, so much to think about

      Like

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