Runtime 93 minutes.
Not for children.
Rarely does the opening scene of a film project its quality and entire content, but this one does. If you like Jude Law’s opening monologue, a profanity-laden paean to his male member, you should like what follows. If, on the other hand, you are like me and find the monologue cringeworthy and distasteful in the extreme, you are advised to walk out and not return, because it doesn’t get any better.
Law plays the titular Dom and to say he plays it to excess is not mincing words. Although billed as a comedy, there’s nothing the least bit humorous in this dark tale of a guy who is obviously a sociopath.
This is a big comedown for writer/director Richard Shepard, whose 2005 film The Matador was such a pleasant outing for Pierce Brosnan. That was a comedy. Shepard has lost his way if he thinks this is one.
As to the dialogue, when Dom talks about a “revolution” to crime boss Mr.Fontaine aka Ivan Anatoli (Demian Bichir), Mr. Fontaine replies, “If that’s an adverb it’s not working.” This epitomizes the picture of Mr. Fontaine as a crime boss who is genteel, polite, erudite, and patient. Real life crime bosses are more like John Gotti, who was a cold-blooded killer totally devoid of human compassion. Charm and patience and forbearance aren’t part of their makeup. And they certainly don’t put up with the abusive nonsense from underlings that Dom heaps on him. But this is a movie, and that’s no place to expect reality.
The Production Notes proclaim, “…no matter how much sacrilegious mayhem he spreads wherever he goes, the audience can’t help but hope, however improbably, for his redemption.” Maybe Shepard believes this, but whenever a film highlights a protagonist who is disagreeable and unsympathetic, it dooms itself. Dom is an unremitting jerk. He is rude, crude, and possesses no redeeming values, save that he loves his daughter, Evelyn (Emilia Clarke, in a good performance; known by some for her appearance in HBO’s Game of Thrones). She, in turn, hates him and she’s got a good reason. He is such a disputatious jackass I never identified with Dom or hoped he would get it together. I was thinking that Mr. Fontaine should just plug Dom and put him (and the audience) out of misery. When you make a film in which the audience roots against your protagonist, you’ve got problems.
Why anyone would want to spend time on a film as vulgar, emotionally violent, and silly as this one is beyond me.
Under the Skin
Runtime 107 minutes.
Not for children.
This is a movie that is as incomprehensible as the classic, Last Year at Marienbad (1961) about a couple who may or may not have met last year at, well, you get the point. And if you do, it’s more than most people did when they exited the movie. Over 50 years later I still don’t have a clue.
And that’s the main problem with this movie. What’s the point? Based on the novel by Michel Faber, Scarlett Johansson bares all as a predatory female who seduces lonely men after which they disappear. What’s going on here? Unfortunately the viewer never really gets the picture because this film doesn’t explain itself. It just ends. I didn’t get the point until I read the production notes. But because the point of what’s going on would be a horrible spoiler, I won’t tell what it is.
There is very little dialogue. Most of the film consists of Johansson wandering around with a dazed look on her face looking for men to pick up and take to her lair where a bad fate awaits them.
Much of the interest (of men, anyway) centers around if and when Johansson will take off her clothes. Although the film starts with her stark naked, the scenes are dark and not that revealing. She eventually does strip but not until near the end of the film, when she stands in front of a mirror admiring herself.
Directed by Jonathan Glazer, who also wrote the script with Walter Campbell, the pace is extraordinarily slow, but interest doesn’t wane that much because you’re trying to figure out what’s going on. It’s too bad Glazer never explains because a viewer won’t have the advantage of reading production notes and will be left wondering what that was all about.
As to the rating, while Johansson appears naked, so do several men in a state of sexual excitement, which normally calls for an NC-17 rating.