Lynsey Taylor Mackay
She (Scarlett Johansson) is an alien that has come from somewhere to Earth in order to fulfill her duty. To blend in, she’ll have to steal clothes and throw on deep lipstick. This also helps her pick up men, although she’s less interested in having sex with them than they would be with her. Her mission, instead, is to lure them to a lair, where the men are tricked into stepping into a lake filled with an inky liquid that quickly pulls them under the surface.
It’s not explained why the alien must do this, but it doesn’t entirely matter. UNDER THE SKIN is less about story and dishing out answers than it is about the experience and pondering the questions.
Jonathan Glazer has been an intriguing director since he made his debut with 2000’s SEXY BEAST. His latest isn’t just the best of his career so far, it’s also one of the most fascinating science-fiction films in years. It is a quiet, cerebral film that reminds the learned viewer of such essentials as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, Andrei Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS and Nicolas Roeg’s THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH. Like those films, UNDER THE SKIN (which is written by Glazer and Walter Campbell, adapting Michael Faber’s 2000 novel) delicately develops the atmosphere and environment and refuses to hand the viewer anything.
Such an approach could frustrate many, but it serves the film (and even genre) tremendously. It could be easy to throw a series of answers that neatly wrap up the story and lead character, but then there wouldn’t be as much to theorize about afterwards.