Under the Skin is a film that truly lives up to its title. Writer/director Jonathan Glazer's modern sci-fi masterpiece hasn't left me since I saw it in theaters two years ago, and part of the reason for that is Mica Levi's haunting score, which serves as the perfect accompaniment to Glazer's sensual, horrifying visual world.
The feat was all the more impressive given that Under the Skin was Levi's first time crafting music for a film; owing to the alien origins of Scarlett Johansson's character, the viola-driven score sounds positively otherworldly thanks to Levi's penchant for distortion, which lends the proceedings an unnerving undercurrent of throbbing, sexual dread.
“I like the way that it perverts your comfort and your reality,” Levi told Pitchfork of the sound-manipulation process she employed. “It”s a different kind of distortion to me-perverting sound into a different field.”
Along with the rest of Under the Skin, Levi's forward-thinking score was predictably snubbed by the backward-thinking American Academy but nevertheless garnered a BAFTA nomination for Best Original Music, and best of all it kicked off a new career trajectory for the musician, who previously recorded several albums under the stage name Micachu along with her band The Shapes (now Good Sad Happy Band).
Indeed, as first reported by Film Music Reporter last week, Levi is now hard at work composing the score for Jackie, the Natalie Portman-starring biopic of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis that will take the former First Lady's perspective of JFK's 1963 assassination in Dallas. It's a compelling angle on the oft-dramatized event, and I'm even more excited to know that Levi will be the one to tackle that particular headspace through music. If nothing else, the collaboration seems destined to provide us with another radical, dynamic score from a fierce and swiftly rising talent.
Jackie premieres next month at the Venice Film Festival. You can listen to the entire Under the Skin soundtrack below.