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Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson is extraordinary as a voracious alien in human form in Jonathan Glazer’s existential kitchen-sink sci-fi.

Under the Skin

  • Director Jonathan Glazer
  • Producers James Wilson, Nick Wechsler
  • Screenwriters Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer
  • With Scarlett Johansson, Paul Brannigan
  • USA-UK 2013
  • 107 mins
  • UK distribution STUDIOCANAL

Visually and aurally audacious and as slippery in form as its central character, Jonathan Glazer’s (Sexy Beast, Birth) elliptical sci-fi about an alien creature (Scarlett Johansson) who stalks down human prey is a brilliant amalgam of fantasy and reality. In a stunning early sequence of metamorphosis, the naked femme fatale dons the attire of her predecessor and goes out on the prowl in a non-descript van, effortlessly procuring not-so gullible lads from the backstreets of Glasgow and local highways and luring them into an unimaginable void. Through alien eyes, the world appears desolate, the men all hungry and wanting. Through human eyes, her insatiable drive feels strangely vindicated. The cycle mutates when a routine pick-up unexpectedly kindles an empathetic response, infecting her with humanness and illuminating the fate of the one who came before. Filmed on location in Scotland, where not all the male victims were knowing participants, the filmmaking recalls the realism of Ken Loach as much as the surrealism of David Lynch. Vividly heightened by Mica Levi’s (of Micachu and the Shapes) discordant string and synth score, Glazer has created an entirely distinctive film, both creepy and luminous in its metaphysical precision.

Clare Stewart

Read the Time Out review.

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