Astrology: Film: Review: ‘Under the Skin’ (2014)

A24

A24

Before extraterrestrials became pop culture’s ultimate “other” – entities whose plasma, motivations and origins were defined by their mystery – a predecessor “alien” hogged the limelight. The more primitive version of the terrifyingly enigmatic was the female. And, in Under the Skin, these two mythic and incomprehensible figures – one from earth, the other from a far off galaxy – seemingly merge physically and wind up at the receiving end of society’s ill treatment of the objectified Feminine.

At the beginning of the movie, directed and co-written by Jonathan Glazer and based on the novel by Michel Faber, a beautiful, unnamed woman (Scarlett Johansson) bids farewell to a dead version of herself in an other-worldly setting. Suddenly she’s driving in a white van around rough-hewn Glasgow, bedecked in a wig and ratty fur coat. She operates virtually in silence, controlled by that sub-dermal alien force. Her catch phrase to unsuspecting men she meets is a threadbare “Are you alone?”

We soon learn that she’s got a simple goal. By exuding promises of sex, she lures men to her lair. Then, as she executes a visually hypnotic semi-moonwalk on a glistening liquid, the men whom this naked woman beckons to follow her sink and are dramatically harvested.

Although nothing is spelled out about her cosmic bosses – the only clue is a handler or protector who zips around the city on a motorcycle – the absence of a back story isn’t missed. What significantly focuses our interest is her growing curiosity about the people she meets, including a man with a severe facial disfigurement and, later, a kindly, age-appropriate male. The solo state of the men she plucks from the crowd is a circumstance she’s finding less appealing and embraceable in herself.

However, along with her positive experience connecting with others comes a steep learning curve. More vulnerable now, she runs the risk of being victimized by men who can only think about conquering her physically because they can neither control nor understand what the Feminine truly represents.

Under the Skin’s protagonist demonstrates two aspects of the Venus archetype. Like Aphrodite, who mythologically emerged from the sea’s foam, she’s a sexual seductress who lures men to an underwater grave. But this anti-heroine increasingly aspires to a Venusian receptivity involving touch, sensuality and affection. Turns out the latter pursuit clearly carries more risk and, appropriate to the sci-fi genre, horror.

Astrology Film Rating: ♀  (Venus)

 

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