‘Under the Skin’ is a very dialogue light film, which always has its advantages and disadvantages in every film that chooses to use this technique. One of the biggest disadvantages that faces this film is that because it is so light on dialogue, the audience is never in the loop, it almost feels as if we only see half the story as there is no exposition, no clear motives for any of the actions and at times, it feels as if the film is just drifting a long with no real story to tell. Things seem to happen just because that is what the director/writer wanted to happen and without exposition or any clear dialogue, there is no motives given for a characters sudden change other than subtle hints.
I am a huge fan of great dialogue between characters but in this film all of the dialogue is basically small talk and at times it got frustrating for me as the story is extremely interesting and very unique so I just wanted at least one meaningful conversation to take place.
This is not to say that the writing is bad, it is very natural and isn’t forced at all which helps set the eerie mood the film has throughout. You are just following Scarlett Johansson’s character around as though it were a normal day, yet it is not boring at all, it is thoroughly gripping. To make a film with very little dialogue and practically not a meaningful sentence said between any of the characters takes a fantastic amount of skill, not only directing but writing and the acting. If any of those three key roles were weaker than the other then the film would have gone downhill very quickly but it doesn’t and that, to me, makes up for the lack of substantial dialogue.
Having said all of that, Scarlett Johansson’s nuanced performance is absolutely fantastic, like I have said previously, if an actress had tried to overstate her performance or even understated it, then it would have been extremely jarring. Johansson comes off extremely natural and it is the slight expressions or the emotion, or lack thereof she displays in her eyes that really makes this film what it is.
Is this film for everyone? Absolutely not, some people have fallen in love with this film where I can see others thinking it awful. However, you owe it to this film and to yourself to at least watch it once and appreciate the talent involved in this film.