Beauty and the Best

Scarlett Johansson

"Under the Skin" Will Get Under Yours

blogEntryTopper*SPOILERS* “Under the Skin” is a creepy new sci fi offering from “Sexy Beast” director Jonathan Glazer. Not since “Alien” have I seen anything so bizarre on screen. You can’t look away because the movie is so strange and unpredictable, it commands you to keep watching. In short, the film is about a pair of aliens, a woman, played by Scarlett Johansson, and her male counterpart. They harvest human skin and use it to pretend to look like us. Specifically, Johansson’s character lures unsuspecting men back to her unusually dark apartment, and, using nothing more than the promise of sex with her, traps them in a dark, viscous fluid that she can walk on, but they sink into. For the
first couple of trappings we only see the victims slip slowly into the liquid. But in one of the more disturbing encounters, the director gives us the perspective of the victim from inside the pernicious liquid as he watches Scarjo cavalierly walk across it, pick up her clothes, and leave. What he sees while in that gooey substance will chill you to the bone. There isn’t much gore in this movie, but the little there is is used quite effectively.

The other thing that was impressive to me about this movie, in addition to how well it is shot, is how the director does a lot with just suggestions. In one troubling scene, a couple drown at sea while their baby wails on the shore. Johansson’s character surveys the tragedy impassively, paying no mind to the crying baby on the shore.

But Johansson is not without some emotion, and when she falls on the street and is helped by strangers, she starts to reconsider her predatory ways. While on the prowl she encounters a severely deformed man who is very withdrawn. For some reason, Johansson has sympathy for this man and releases him from her trap. But this sets off a chain of events that leads to her being hunted down by the male alien. In her effort to escape, the movie slows down briefly has Johansson falls in with a human who gives her shelter and eventually tries to have sex with her (an unsuccessful endeavor). She flees his home and runs into the woods, only to encounter a human predator of a different flavor. The hunter becomes the hunted. Oddly, I actually had sympathy for this cruel alien by the end.

It’s a fascinating film and one I give a high recommend to, although I understand its art house trappings are not for everyone.

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