Scarlett Johansson excels as a ravishing extra terrestrial trying to adapt to her earthly surroundings in Jonathan’s Glazer’s new film Under The Skin.
The movie starts in earnest as we catch Laura (Scarlett Johansson) presumably having just arrived on earth and as is the tradition for other-planeters in her birthday gear (Think Arnie in Terminator). The scene as Laura undresses a hapless victim to acquire her clothes is very sensual and provocative and the switching to silhouette is visually eye catching as well. After the Kubrick 2001 like opening, although not quite so long, it was setting a stylish dream like tone for the movie.
Next up we see that Laura’s mode of operandi which is to drive around the streets of Glasgow looking to pick up single men. So introducing the what if? The intriguing dimension of probably every red blooded male’s fantasy of being chatted up by Scarlett Johansson and being asked back to hers.
It’s a slow burning movie with little real dialogue which relies on minimal words and interaction between Laura and the men she meets on her travels. Johansson really takes to the role, having the presence and subtlety to play out the naturalistic scenes but also to reveal her other world-ness.
Maybe it was no surprise that I thought it was her best performance I could remember since she wowed us in Lost in Translation, given that also required little in the way of dialogue but the ability to hold a scene with presence, a little lost and vulnerable at times and obviously Sofia Coppola framing the obvious charms of Johansson to good effect as Glazer does her. This felt like an altogether more memorable performance by Johannson from the way she talked or walked which felt like a real departure from not just a run-of-the-mill and unchallenging fluff role as say in Match Point.
Under the Skin trailer
The Scottish locations were also used to good effect, the Highlands in particular gave it a brooding, mysterious and atmospheric quality a la David Lynch and the dark moments in the movie playing out like dream sequences.
Glazer who has the excellent Sexy Beast as a credit proved that he is a director with vision and the ability to deliver. The naturalistic interactions had echoes of Mike Leigh, while other aspects had me thinking of Kubrick and Lynch and best of all without appearing to try to hard to achieve desired effects.