Editor's Note: We can't all make it to the Toronto International Film Festival (which is too bad, since it's where some of the best films of the next year will be shown). But CT has the next best thing: daily updates during the Festival from our critic Ken Morefield. Stay tuned for the next week for capsule reviews and reflections on some of the world's most important movies.
Friends from France, directed by Phillipe Kotlarski and Anne Weil
Under the Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer
I may well be the only person in North America who walked into Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin stone cold, but I think I will be the better for it in the long run. In these days of advance screenings and preproduction gossip, I hardly know what constitutes a plot spoiler any more—particularly when dealing with actors or directors who have an enthusiastic fan base.
Under the Skin was one of those films that I hated through all 108 minutes only to walk out of the theater entertaining the notion that I had totally misjudged it. Scarlett Johansson plays Laura, who spends most of the film hunting for men and finding them surprisingly easy prey. What happens when she gets the men back to her place is . . . not entirely clear. It involves a lot of nudity (mostly male), and some of the most impressionistic use of sound and silhouette you are likely to see in a commercial film. Glazer said of his process in adapting Michael Faber's novel that he sought a "language [that] communicates visually how [Laura] feels."
That explanation makes a lot more sense at the end of the film than it does at the beginning, but whether the average viewer wants to sit through a film twice to preserve the value of allowing a story ...