Starring: Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Jonathan Glazer
Synopsis: A mysterious woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. Events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.
Apparently Under The Skin took Jonathan Glazer ten years to get made. To be honest, I’m not sure it was really worth the wait. In fact, having read IMDb, there was an earlier draft where there was an alien couple living in Scotland, with Brad Pitt starring. This sounds far more interesting!
Joking aside, Under The Skin is one of those films you will love or hate. I guess that means I will err towards hating it, although that would be a bit harsh. It just didn’t do anything for me if I’m honest. The concept was good, the execution was a bit too close to arty to make it anything more than a curio. I like some arty movies, but this one, much like Only God Forgives, left me cold.
Scarlett Johansson, who is actually very good despite not saying much (what she does say she adopts a very convincing English accent), plays an alien dressed in human skin, sent to earth for no apparent reason. I mean, I get that she undertakes a sort of self-discovery and goes from inhumane to quite the opposite, but WHAT WAS SHE DOING THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?!! She drives around in a Ford Transit van picking up young Scottish guys who are impossible to understand (must be set in Glasgow. Seriously, subtitles wouldn’t have gone amiss) and then taking them back to her house (not sure how she got a mortgage with no employment records) and proceeds to seduce them until they drown in black flooring screed. Sound weird? It is. And it also gets a bit repetitive after a while. All the while there is a mysterious guy on a motorbike roaming the countryside of Scotland, presumably the male version of Scarlett.
If it sounds like I’m picking on Under The Skin, I kind of am. I really didn’t hate it as bad as I made out, and the ending I even quite admired. I just thought it could have been so much better if it had more plot and less art. I know that makes me sound like a philistine but it’s true. That’s why The Beatles wrote three minute pop gems and everyone loves them, and Yes made thirty minute noodly epics and are largely derided. Keep it simple people!
I would love to have said I really liked this film, as there are a few redeeming features (the unnerving score, Scarlett Johansson) but in the end I was actually just a bit bored.