Saturday, 15 March 2014

REVIEW - UNDER THE SKIN


For a director so consumed with the art of filmmaking, Jonathan Glazer is uncommonly benevolent. There is not a moment in Under the Skin in which he is not arousing some kind of response from his audience through formal, stylistic means, but there are so many moments in which to savour his craft. And it's precisely the point, anyway, that he is arousing a response from us, and his bold and deliberate technique of doing so, through technical processes rather than conventional emotional ones, he is a genuine master of. He appreciates that the transformation required in reconfiguring the output of a stylistic directorial method from abstract to emotional is not instantaneous, and thus leaves spaces in his film for this to occur. As it is, then, constructed of so few pieces - so few characters, so few scenarios, so little dialogue and so strict and spare a mise-en-scene - Under the Skin is a most primal movie. Its intention is to appeal directly to one's senses and to thereby instill a definite mood in its individual viewers. And its design is thoroughly basic, though undoubtedly spectacular and quite exquisitely considered: visually, there is sweetness and joy in white, danger and desire in red, darkness and death in black. You'll recognise this as by no means an especially innovative aspect of Glazer's direction, but in the stark beauty of the images he and his crew have created and in his impeccable application of them, it's certainly an especially rewarding aspect. You'll then not be surprised to learn that, sonically, Under the Skin is equally memorable, and, if you are familiar with his previous cinematic work, nor that he elicits excellent performances from his cast. His only faltering of any significance is when he attempts to appeal beyond one's senses and instead to the heart; as capable a technician as he may be, his style is simply too cold to the touch to make this possible, and bids at sensuality come off as misguided and half-hearted. But this is an otherwise dazzling, sublimely-made film.