Disguising itself as a human female, an extraterrestrial (Scarlett Johansson) drives around Scotland attempting to lure unsuspecting men into her van. Once there, she seduces and sends them into another dimension where they are nothing more than meat.
Watching Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin is a surreal experience and one that is genuinely near impossible to put into words. It’s a movie that feels so larger than life, beautiful, and chilling all at the same time. Right from the eerie and unsettling opening scene right down to the final haunting and unforgettable few scenes, Under the Skin is a movie unlike any other I’ve seen. And no matter how many times I go and revisit the film, it still leaves me in awe and chills me to the core.
One of the things that you’ll probably notice right away while watching just the first few minutes of Under the Skin is how little dialogue there is. There are only a couple of scenes in which we hear some talking, and for some, that will be a flaw. Lots of people need there to be lots of talking throughout a movie, but Under the Skin makes the very wise choice to make this the loudest movie without any dialogue.
What I mean by that is that there are tons of eerie sounds that linger throughout this movie and even more than that, there are shots in this movie that will be seared into your brain forever. The musical score by Mica Levi as well as the bold and unforgettable cinematography by Daniel Landin say more than words could ever say in a film like this.
And I would be crazy if I didn’t mention how truly remarkable Scarlett Johansson is in the lead role of “The Female”. Johansson is almost universally recognized as an entertaining, funny, and charismatic actress and has captivated the hearts of audiences all around the world for many, many years thanks in part to her iconic performance as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But in Under the Skin, she is genuinely unrecognizable. And it’s not because she looks extremely different. She looks the exact same as how we know her to look like in real life. She is unrecognizable because of how incredibly disturbing and creepy her performance is here.
Every single time she was on screen, I felt uncomfortable and unsure of where things were going to go. What are her true intentions? Why is she doing the things that she does? And most importantly – who even is she? Her performance as Black Widow may be my favorite role of hers, but her work in this film is undoubtedly her best as an actress.
Under the Skin is really one of those movies that raises so many thought-provoking questions and makes you ponder them throughout the duration of the movie, and even after the credits roll. The ending does provide some answers, but even though the story may be complete in that way, you’re still going to be thinking about certain moments in the story for a very, very, long time. And any film that is able to do that is beautiful to me.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language
Cast: Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Jonathan Glazer
Distributed by: StudioCanal, A24
Release Date: August 10, 2014
Running Time: 108 minutes