"Under the Skin"
Release Date: April 18, 2014
Running Time: 108 minutes
By no means the thinking person’s Species, Under the Skin finds the tastefully photographed Scarlett Johansson in various states of undress as an alien who, after taking the guise of a beautiful young woman, employs the promise of sex as a means to lure lonely, unattached men to a fate worse than death. Director Jonathan Glazer’s intentionally vague and aloof adaptation of Michael Faber’s 2000 novel spends most of its torturous 108 minutes following Johansson around Scotland as she pick up her victims and takes them back to the apartment where she commits her dastardly deeds. Glazer uses each successive encounter to reveal more about Johansson’s intentions and the methods by which she holds the men captive until they fulfill her needs. Aided by Mica Levi’s spine-tingling soundtrack, Glazer creates a dark and ominous atmosphere that makes Johansson’s hunt for her prey all the more horrifying. However, watching Johansson chat up one man after another quickly becomes a relentless exercise in repetition, one that fails to provide much insight into the human condition from an outsider’s perspective. Unless, of course, you had no idea that men are easy to seduce, especially when a Hollywood starlet propositions them. Not that Under the Skin shows much curiosity in the sexual dynamics between men and women. Sex is just a weapon for Johansson to use to entice her quarry. These encounters with men do find Johansson at her most alluring; otherwise, she’s suitably expressionless as a creature of unknown origin that we initially believe possesses no compassion and cannot process feelings. Under the Skin, though, becomes marginally intriguing when it requires Johansson to experience emotional and physical intimacy. Unfortunately, this happens too late in Under the Skinfor Johansson to truly grapple with the consequences of empathizing with her prey or appreciating the kindness of strangers. It also forces Glazer to rush into a climax that, while appropriate under the circumstances, never resonates the way it should. Glazer may imply that man is the true monster of Under the Skin, but he does fail to make a convincing case that Johansson is anything other than a predator that feeds upon an easy target.
Aired: April 17, 2014
Web site: http://undertheskinmovie.com/