“And there is another feeling that is a great consolation in poverty. I believe everyone who has been hard up has experienced it. It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs — and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it.”
― George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London
I chose today, Mother’s Day in the UK, to watch PERSONA again.
On the urging of one of the readers of my book Capitalist Realism, I started to investigate the work of David Smail. Smail – a therapist, but one who makes the question of power central to his practice – confirmed the hypotheses about depression that I had stumbled towards. In his crucial book The Origins of Unhappiness, Smail describes how the marks of class are designed to be indelible. For those who from birth are taught to think of themselves as lesser, the acquisition of qualifications or wealth will seldom be sufficient to erase – either in their own minds or in the minds of others – the primordial sense of worthlessness that marks them so early in life. Someone who moves out of the social sphere they are ‘supposed’ to occupy is always in danger of being overcome by feelings of vertigo, panic and horror: “…isolated, cut off, surrounded by hostile space, you are suddenly without connections, without stability, with nothing to hold you upright or in place; a dizzying, sickening unreality takes possession of you; you are threatened by a complete loss of identity, a sense of utter fraudulence; you have no right to be here, now, inhabiting this body, dressed in this way; you are a nothing, and ‘nothing’ is quite literally what you feel you are about to become.”Mark Fisher, Occupied Times — Good For Nothing
“My fear was casting someone that would be familiar to the audience, which didn’t feel credible for the story,” Glazer says. “So in wrestling with that, we came to the idea of her in disguise, and then the disguise led us to shooting the world as it is. The narrative and the method became the same thing.” Even Johansson’s sessions with a dialogue coach, in which she learns to speak in clipped, frosty R.P., were recorded for the film’s prologue, in which we see her extraterrestrial temptress ‘getting into character’.
Robbie Collin, Telegraph — Under The Skin: the making of Scarlett Johansson’s alienating new film
I’m an easy mark for films about films, films where actors play someone acting (my favourite: MULHOLLAND DRIVE) but something about Johansson’s role in UNDER THE SKIN feels particularly incredible to me.