May 7, 2014
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.