Bones, nerves, blood and meat: we are all made of the same stuff underneath. Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin presents us with a person who isn’t. The film is certainly divisive: but would you expect anything else from an almost wordless science-fiction thriller in which Scarlett Johansson plays an alien who lures lonely and/or horny Glaswegians into her van and turns them into Scotch broth?
Johansson is nothing short of iconic here; her character is a classic femme fatale in the film noir tradition, down to the plump red lips and deep fur coat, but with a refrigerated nothingness at her core. She looks at her fellow cast members as if they are from another planet – which is, of course, exactly as it should be. Even the Scottish landscape looks alien: dawn mist rolls across lochs like curls of space dust.
Glazer’s astonishing film takes you to a place where the everyday becomes suddenly strange, and fear and seduction become one and the same. You stare at the screen, at once entranced and terrified, and step forward into the slick.
‘[Glazer] works a magic on this material. He takes tired old prose and spins it into poetry.’
‘a tour de force of sensual and sensory film-making’