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There are few feelings quite like the jubilation I feel when a film I have minimal expectations for receives almost nothing but praise following its premiere. I certainly want Jonathan Glazer’s introspective sci-fi film Under the Skin to be one of the best films of the year, but I knew there was only a small chance that could happen. But reactions coming out of TIFF have largely been positive, both from us and others, and describe a film that is challenging to the mind and senses, while provoking rather than alienating. The above extended trailer for the film, via The Film Stage, definitely extends the feelings of unease and something of an exotic discomfort. The trailer is really just the previously-released teaser front-ended with dialogue and more unsettling images. But it continues to make me think this is going to be the perfect midnight movie for the thinking crowd.
For this clip, the score is really what jars the nerves, and I wonder how heavily that works during the film itself. We get a peek into the preparation Laura (Scarlett Johansson) goes through while trying to secure a mate. The story centers on an extra-terrestrial focused on finding lone males and luring them back to her strange home where black goop devours them... and I’m really not sure what happens from there. She’s lonely, and beautiful, and the film is also about those things, I think. I really want to know as little about the movie as possible by the time it comes out in theaters.
Adding unsettling subtext to watching Laura work her feminine wiles is knowing that Johansson reportedly picked up some of the men she nabs for the film without them realizing they were being filmed for a movie. The fact that she was actually able to seduce them into the vehicle is a strong statement of how much decision-making can be based on primal urges. Beautiful female in an unmarked van doesn’t sound nearly as terrifying as grizzled old man in an unmarked van. Even if all you want is some candy.
I never had any doubt that Grazer could follow up his last film, 2004’s Birth, with anything more confounding or disappointing, and I’m glad that all signs are pointing up to the stars for Under the Skin. Unfortunately, there is no set release date just yet, but A24 Films’ recent acquisition of the film means that one is coming. Expect to see the film pop up sometime in the next year.