Under the Skin (2014)

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

A seductive stranger prowls the streets of Glasgow in search of prey: unsuspecting men who fall under her spell.

Surgically removed of the interiority of Michael Faber's original novel, Under the Skin becomes as austere, as rugged and, quite frankly, as beautiful as the Scottish landscape. The book's savagely cold satire of the meat industry (which made it something of a distant cousin to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle) is excised from this adaptation also, save an ecological parallel immanent in the film's sly implication that the would-be rapist-murderer we meet at the end of the film embodies the rapacious and exploitative nature of the logging industry.


As a work of staggering science-fiction art it wears the genre, as opposed to the genre wearing and owning it.


One can imagine how inferior the film would be if it resorted to the biker magnetically tracking down the Woman as if there was a radar or a tracker attached to her skin. The images of the biker navigating the winding Scottish highlands, closing in on her whereabouts but still far from tracing her exact dwelling, are terrific gestures to a plot development that need not have closure in itself. He is the antagonist of the film and the Woman is now definitively a beloved heroine, but Glazer had always placed her in a murky relationship with the audience.


If you enjoyed the original source novel, you may wonder why the director omitted so much of the literary narrative, but in fact the bowdlerised elements are precisely what elevates the included properties.

David Wallace