Scarlett Johansson is an alien creature in human guise cruising Glasgow on a mysterious mission to lure young men. Jonathan Glazer’s eerie spellbinder amalgamates chilling fantasy with covertly filmed reality.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
“An unnamed woman, played by Scarlett Johansson with unshakably alluring menace, cruises the streets of Scotland in a cargo van looking for men. She’s not the usual femme fatale. She’s an alien, and what she does to these guys, well, that’s for you to find out. Jonathan Glazer, a music-video director credited with two provocative features (Sexy Beast, Birth), has joined with writer Walter Campbell to adapt Michel Faber’s 2000 novel. As adaptations go, this one’s a highwire act. Using hidden digital cameras, Glazer shows us real Scots reacting to this sexy beast behind the wheel. The effect is eerie and electrifying. Glazer attempts to let us see the human world through the eyes of a nonhuman, evocatively reflected in Mica Levi’s score. By the time this alien begins to see humans as more than specimens, Under the Skin has allowed us to view ourselves with fresh eyes. Johansson is phenomenal in every sense of the word. She joins Glazer in creating a brave experiment in cinema that richly rewards the demands it makes. The result is an amazement, a film of beauty and shocking gravity.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“Just give yourself over to the primal ooze of the experience filmmaker Jonathan Glazer has created and Scarlett Johansson has made brilliantly, unnervingly real. Watching this film feels like a genesis moment – of sci-fi fable, of filmmaking, of performance – with all the ambiguity and excitement that implies.” — Betsy Sharkey, LA Times