FILM REVIEW: Under The Skin (introduced by Rian Johnson)

WORTH A LOOK: ****1/2

WHERE: BFI

WHEN: 27/7/15

Rian Johnson wrote and directed 2012 Bruce Willis time travel action ride Looper and will do the same for Star Wars Episode VIII, the one to follow The Force Awakens out 18/12/15.

He’s here onstage at the BFI to introduce one of his favourite films and influences Under The Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson, essentially playing an alien touring Scotland in a van luring interested men to their deaths.

Johnson explains that he’s seen Under The Skin four or five timesand feels that it’s best watched alone to avoid disagreement with fellow viewers about its merits. It’s certainly a film which divided critics – some ridiculed the scenes of Johansson in her van on the pull because they were shot Candid Camera-style. With her participants initially unaware that a film was being made, the results do make viewing both natural and awkward.

Johnson particularly appreciates the economy with which the story is revealed: ‘If you think about what we are being told, there is not a second here that is wasted. The editing is brilliant.’

He describes it as being one of his top five films of all time because it shows its audience something new and almost every scene is visually memorable. He loves the soundtrack which certainly adds to the atmosphere in a film which is very sparing with dialogue.

Have we learnt a great deal about Star Wars Episode VIII? Johnson is giving little away but he’s certainly a brave choice to helm the next episode in the reinvigorated franchise. A hot writer/director certainly but how much of his indie film sensibility will he bring to Star Wars? Although Looper was undoubtedly a triumph.

Under The Skin is certainly visually striking and the hidden camera scenes make for unusual filmmaking but to these eyes the film’s final third, although unexpected, drags. Thankfully for Johnson monstagigz didn’t bump into him in the BFI lobby to argue its case.

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