Scarlett Johansson Bares All in ‘Under the Skin’

Scarlett Johansson Bares All in 'Under the Skin'

Everything you’ve heard about Under the Skin, the new Scarlett Johansson movie, is true: this movie has the same plot as Species (1995). In that sci-fi thriller, a female hottie alien played by Natasha Henstridge runs around seducing and/or killing men. Now replace Henstridge with Scarlett Johansson, and imagine if the movie was directed by David Lynch circa Eraserhead (1977), with a script by Irvine Welsh. Crazy, right?

Of course, Under the Skin wasn’t actually directed by David Lynch, just some British guy who obviously worships Lynch, and probably Stanley Kubrick too. Jonathan Glazer is the director, and if you’re wondering who the hell he is, take a look at this:

Sexy Beast (2000)

Or how about this:

Radiohead – Karma Police

Not bad. With Sexy Beast (2000) and a pair of Radiohead videos under his belt, Glazer could’ve just retired and waited for the hipsters of 2025 to declare him the great undiscovered genius of his time. Instead, he went ahead and directed one of the most aggressively bizarre science fiction movies of recent times. It’s a throwback to those late 60’s – early 70’s nearly incomprehensible “cerebral” science fiction flicks – where the director doesn’t bother to explain anything, because you either get it or you don’t, man.

There’s no voiceover, and no introductory title card, the movie just starts and it’s all atmosphere and ScarJo for the rest of the trip. The music by Mica Levi (from Micachu & The Shapes!), all screechy strings and kabuki clonks, sets the mood.

The plot involves an alien played by Scarlett Johansson driving around Scotland and trying to pick up men for an evil alien purpose. The alien’s victims get taken to the WORST HOUSE IN SCOTLAND where Scarlett has her way with them, alien style (nightmarishly, not erotically). All of the men look and sound like extras from Trainspotting (1996), to the point that subtitles might have been in order.

Scarlett has been de-glamorized, dressed frumpily in a black wig and wearing an ugly fur and acid-wash jeans. Sometimes she BARES ALL by wearing no makeup – Spoiler Alert 1: without makeup she looks just like Frances McDormand.  Sometimes she BARES ALL by baring all – but Spoiler Alert 2, her body is completely de-eroticized by director Glazer and cinematographer Daniel Landin, who succeed in making her look like an alien in a bag of flesh and not a Hollywood starlet. Mostly Scarlett bares the alien’s feelings using only her facial expressions, as there is hardly any dialogue in the movie.

Under the Skin might not be everybody’s cup of alien blood, but we give it Five Corpses Up for being uncompromising. In addition, we give Scarlett Johansson Seven Billion Happy Nice Time Points for taking on a difficult role in an indie film when she could’ve just been raking in the bucks from those Marvel Comics movies.

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  • SullivanSt

    some British guy who obviously worships Lynch, and probably Stanley Kubrick too.

    With the sparse dialog, and the eye and camera lens shots, there’s no probably about it, Glazer definitely worships Kubrick too.

  • Annie Towne

    I’m glad to know that Johansson is stretching herself. I haven’t enjoyed her in anything since Girl With A Pearl Earring.

  • stuckinlodi no more

    Not my cup of tea, but nice review

  • Thurb

    And see, my first thought on reading about this was if Glazer had an actor of the same quality level of his “Sexy Beast” cast, he might have pulled it off. Johansson hasn’t the ability to take nonsense and spin gold like Kingsley, Winstone and McShane. I will give you she is prettier then Winstone though…

  • So, you’re saying you cant really see much??

  • Michael Stone

    What a powerful movie and it definitely helps to have read the book. What I’m saying is, I read the book. I knew what was going on and I wonder how I would have felt if I hadn’t. Two people in my LA screening walked out at about the halfway mark. But it was a full house about three weeks into the run. As to the films influences, Many site, Kubrik, Erik mentioned Lynch and those are on base. But for me, the greatest influences are from the end of the silent era. I’m thinking of Murnau for sure. Lang too. Under the Skin, is, for me, perhaps the greatest silent film ever made. Not to take away form the score, which is haunting and magical and Scarlet is magnificent and mysterious and mesmerizing. I want to hug her!! And more…