The first word I think of when thinking about this film is bleak but… MoreThe first word I think of when thinking about this film is bleak but that doesn't mean its not without its merits. I thought its general message and theme was about forgiveness and being brave enough to have courage in your convictions. To do the right thing these days is not only more difficult but there is every likelihood that you will be derided and ridiculed for it. Strong performances from a very good cast and all set amongst visually breath-taking scenery.
Father James (Gleeson) is a priest in a small Irish village where a member of his parish whilst in confession issues a threat that causes him to look at his life in a different way. He seems to be a well thought of person in the community although it seemed to me that almost everyone has a deep seated cynicism towards life and in particularly religion. His fellow priest is of the younger variety and is viewed in exactly the opposite way by the locals. There is an American author (Emmet Walsh) who is terminally ill and has chosen to write his last book on a small island off the coast of the village. Then there is the local butcher (ODowd) whose wife (Orla O'Rourke) is having an affair with all and sundry and instead of being angry about this he welcomes the freedom it brings. Michael Fitzgerald (Dylan Moran) is a wealthy financier who displays drunken tendencies and very odd behaviour. And then, there is Father James's daughter Kelly (Fiona Lavelle) comes to visit him from London. She is as cute as a button but has scars after a failed suicide attempt as a result of a broken romance. A sequence of events unfolds that test Father James patience, integrity and belief.
It seemed to me that almost each and every person had an issue with religion in the modern day yet they all attended mass and confession. They seemed to use the priest as the main focus of their anger and all try to push him to the limit with shabby behaviour and morals. In the main he stays strong in the face of extreme provocation. A very positive role model for todays clergy when you consider the battering its reputation has taken lately and maybe this is the point? This is exactly how a man of the cloth should carry himself. Brave, righteous and caring without being overly arrogant or sanctimonious. In general a top bloke and of course Gleeson is a class act. A top drawer actor in my opinion. Special mention also goes to Dylan Moran who im not always a big fan of as I thought he played his role with an honesty that I liked.
Thinking of it just now maybe this films intention was to show how difficult it is to set a good example in the modern world. Especially so if you are a man\woman of the cloth when modern day behaviour becomes more overt and blatant and the church in particular is seeing its integrity questioned and scrutinised. Even though I described this as bleak at the beginning, I do think that there is a positive message should you want to find one?
Im a big fan of Director Jonathan Glazers previous work Sexy Beast so… MoreIm a big fan of Director Jonathan Glazers previous work Sexy Beast so I was looking forward to this after reading many positive reviews but I cannot entirely agree with the critics consensus. It has some plus points (chiefly Johansson) but it's way too inaccessible, strange and at times very disturbing for me to recommend to others. It reminded me a little of The Man Who Fell To Earth in a number of ways which is no bad thing as I remember being very impressed by that film. Despite this I think it is worthwhile if you give it a chance but I'm not sure many will in all honesty.
The basic premise of the story is set in Scotland, an alien life form takes the form of a woman (Johansson) and whilst in a transit van subsequently proceeds to drive around trying to entice men with the suggestion of sex. Instead of making the beast with two backs they are treated to a pool of gunk and some not very nice things happening to them. The cynic in me cant but help think that this kind of thing would happen to me if I was propositioned by such a beautiful woman. The alien also has one of her kind in tow who rides a motorbike around the highlands like a mentalist clearing up after the abductions. One thing leads to another and I cannot really say what happens except to say that the alien begins to question her actions and motives. These questions lead to an inner conflict within herself that has severe repercussions.
On the downside some aspects of Under The Skin didn't make sense to me. One example was the motives of the aliens. Maybe that's the point and I agree to a certain extent as I don't necessarily think that all aspects of a story should be spelt out to the viewer. However, shedding a little light on this may have helped. It was too slow paced at times and I definitely got the impression that it was trying to be arty farty and possibly even pretentious. Many wont like the myriad of shots of the Scottish public going about their daily lives without (I am assuming) their knowledge of this. It's like watching CCTV footage of a day's shopping at Lakeside at times. I do accept that it's trying to show how our daily lives might seem to an alien and how strange it would seem to them.
Onto the good. I'm very pleased that a mainstream Hollywood star such as Scarlett Johansson undertook what is essentially an independent film role. It's nothing like I've ever seen from her and she is magnificent. Not surprisingly she looks the part and her on screen presence manages to command your attention each and every time she is on the screen but manages to be distant and remote at the same time.
Finally, I think the film succeeds in attempting to show both the very best in human nature and the very worst parts and all are relevant. The location is also nothing short of stunning and I loved the way its shot with multiple scenes of the Scottish Highlands. Interesting, yet odd and not always in a good way.