Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Do you want to look at me?

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

Even though I hadn't yet seen Jonathan Glazer's previous films, I still knew to prepare myself for a different kind of movie watching experience with Under the Skin. The film itself is elusive and alien like its "protagonist," a seductive alien wearing a Scarlett Johannson meat suit. Short in dialogue and exposition, the film and the character leave lots of room for the audience to fill in the blanks. To make up for that, we are treated to the dark, dangerous beauty of Scotland and Johansson's alien lensed thoughtfully by Glazer and cinematographer Daniel Landin.

The three sequences where Johansson leads the unsuspecting men to the black void that engulfs them are my favorites in the film as it nicely encapsulates the films themes of isolation and desire. And apart from a very early scene where Johansson is standing in a white void with a dead woman, those scenes are quite set apart from the rest of the film aesthetically speaking.

With that said, as easily as I could've picked my favorite shot from those sequences, I ended up choosing something else entirely. It's an image towards the very end of the film after the alien is forced to take off her damaged Johansson meat suit and it just stares at her former face:

We're of course not privy to its thoughts at that moment, but it all still feels very melancholic and human, the completely opposite of how the film begins. Plus I just thought the alien's dark silhouette against the dark beauty of nature is a striking image.

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