“Under the Skin” is a film that you will love or hate. This is not a pop-corn eating movie. This is strictly art-house fare in all its glory and you may leave wondering if you should get your money back or not.
Johansson stars as an alien in Scotland looking for men that are unattached (meaning no wife, no girlfriend, or no children – someone who won’t be missed) and lures them into a van with her sexy, playful ways. She brings her conquests to a creepy house where she disrobes (yes, there’s full on nudity by Johansson and the men – we see it all) and has them follow her. As the unsuspecting men are seduced, they don’t realize they are never coming back. The tables are turned on Johansson when she’s lost after driving near a foggy forest and she becomes the hunted.
While all this sounds good, under the backdrop of spooky, alien-like music from sci-fi films forty years ago, it moves slowly and calculating with disturbing images and emotions or lack of emotions. There’s not much speaking from Johansson, who probably says less than 200 words throughout, or another alien (Jeremy McWilliams), who’s the motorcycle driving, cleanup guy after she’s done her dirty work.
Even though Johansson has received some critical acclaim for this role (hopefully it’s not just for the nudity), her character is void of any feelings or reaction. It would have been great to see something - and, no a very awkward sex scene from a man who tries to help her find her way back doesn't cut it. She also seemed stilted, one-note with no character development at all.
While the formula for many art-house offerings includes not giving too much away and being surreal, it would have been helpful to get some explanation of the motives as to why the aliens are on earth and in Scotland.
Another aspect that doesn't cut it was the Scottish actors. One could barely understand what they were saying. The film could have benefitted from some subtitles and better sound quality.
If you like art-house films, although the ending will probably make you mad, you’ll love this one, but if not, remember you were warned if you decide to see it.
For more on “Under the Skin,” check out: http://undertheskinmovie.com.