Glazer’s “Under the Skin” a racy, sci-fi fantasy

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Scarlett Johansson plays alien seductress, Laura, in her latest film, "Under the Skin."

Jimmy Graner, Rocket Contributor
May 1, 2014

The science fiction genre in the movie industry is by far a crowd pleaser when it comes to telling a made up story. The writers and directors can bring to life some of the most imaginative thoughts that some of us wish already prevailed.

For most of us though, it’s experiencing the idea that alien life forms exist. In most cases, they come to take over our planet, or at least try to. Whatever the reason may be, the ability to explain this, is what gives us the drive to want more.

“Under the Skin”, a film by Jonathan Glazer, does the complete opposite. We are introduced to a character by the name of Laura (Scarlett Johansson). After a bizarre opening scene, we learn that Laura uses the human skin of a deceased woman to disguise herself from her true form.

From there, we find a man who we learn later is also an alien, packing a white van, which will act as Laura’s way of transportation for her duties. Her task at hand is to find male figures and persuade them into thinking that she is looking for a booty call.

With that idea implanted in their minds, she leads them into a dark living space, where as she undresses, puts them in a type of trance. Once completely vulnerable, they follow her as she leads them into a pool of black ooze. And from there, she continues on her way, finding new prey.

The synopsis of the film is as follows, “An alien seductress preys upon hitchhikers in Scotland”. For about the first forty-five minutes, the film is just that.

We follow one person as she embarks on a duty of what seems to have no rewards or punishments.

There are no action scenes, no futuristic CGI, or even a somewhat comedic phrase to laugh upon. To make matters worse, some sequences contain little to no language whatsoever. One must rely solely on the music being played, to explain the mood in the room.

The acting of Johansson however negates the negativity. I mean, this is the Black Widow (The Avengers) we’re talking about, even if most of the scenes are of her posing or interacting with something. She’s able to stray our feelings of remorse and distraught even after performing a ruthless act. She is the reason we’re still keeping track of what’s going on in the story.

Although it sounds like I’m insulting the overall idea behind the film, it’s important to look at it from an artistic side. To feel grief for another living thing, even though it’s your job not to care, is truly remarkable.

We all have a job we either like or dislike. But how we do each task, no matter what the outcome may be is always up to us, and that’s why adapting to more than one thing is so important. Under the Skin gives us an explanation to understand if what we’re doing in the end is the best and only option.

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