Scoring a film is a delicate task. The job of the composer is to sweep us into the sonic world of the picture, allowing us to feel in tune with the characters and in the proper mindset of the story’s narrative themes, while not manipulating our emotions and ultimately serving to enhance the director’s vision. But when a film is given so much space for silence, and explores both literal and metaphorical worlds of alienation, such a feature calls for a score drenched in atmosphere—one that will impress itself deeply into the bones of the film and create a psychological landscape in which to experience the film through. And with Jonathan Glazer’s long-awaited follow up to 2004’s Birth, the visually-stunning and masterfully-crafted existential science fiction wonder Under the Skin, the film’s score holds you captive from the very start—as if another character itself, luring you in deeper and deeper into Glazer’s haunting world.
Based on Michel Faber’s 2000 novel, Under the Skin penetrates the world of an extraterrestrial woman of unknown origin (played by Scarlett Johansson) who drives through isolated highways and city streets searching for men to seduce and prey on, then drag back to her unearthly lair of unknown darkness. And as tactile as the film is in its colors and textures, Mica Levi’s incredible score is just about as stimulating and psychologically tickling as you can get. With its schizophrenic swirl of ominous sounds, Levi has created an otherworldly hybrid between the likes of Angelo Badalamenti, Bernard Hermann, and Vangelis. Previously known for her band Micachu & The Shapes, Levi has been creating experimental music across all genres, butUnder the Skin marks her first foray into film composing—and it’s a hell of a first go at it.
COMPOSER MICA LEVI ON JONATHAN GLAZER’S UNDER THE SKIN