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Under the Skin: Scarlett seduction


Scarlett Johansson stars as an otherworldly seductress who hunts men and undergoes a transformation

Based loosely on Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same name, Under the Skin tells the story of a predatory female who cruises the streets of Scotland looking for men to seduce.

Producer James Wilson found the original idea a really compelling and potentially cinematic one. The story explores what would happen if human beings become a food source for another species.

Not all women were created equal
Not all women were created equal

Through an Alien’s Eyes

Instead of dramatizing that idea, director Jonathan Glazer (who wrote and directed 2004’s Birth) was more interested in helping his audience ‘re-see’ the world from an alien’s point of view – almost like the process we go through when we watch a nature documentary about animals.

Part road movie, part sci-fi, and even part reality [we explain near the end], Under the Skin is not sex-crazed, although the leading actress spends a good portion of the movie in various states of undress.

Earthly Transformation

The ravishing Scarlett Johansson plays the lead character, Laura, a mysterious woman luring men into a fatal mating dance. Ironically, her modus operandi appears to be that of her namesake in the Avengers movies, the Black Widow.

Laura starts off as an emotionless alien that gradually becomes more human and vulnerable. We love how Laura’s curiosity and growing comfort in this new world is poetic and incredibly touching. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself lured in too.

Is she who she appears to be?
Is she who she appears to be?

Reality Bites?

The role is more about intuition and gesture than dialogue, and Johansson has managed to pull off a beautiful performance like we’ve never seen before. This is perhaps her most challenging role so far, and she’s put in a stellar performance.

Credit to Glazer who manages to place the Hollywood star incognito in the real world among ordinary people, much unlike on a typical movie set. It turns out that most of the scenes involving Johansson speaking to men on the street were unscripted and filmed with secret cameras. Wow! This alone makes the film a must-watch.

The product of an audacious cinematic experiment is a film of intriguing beauty and shocking gravity.

All of this is fascinating; but we dare say it would not be as popular or interesting if not for the casting of the beauteous Johansson, and her wonderfully-strange portrayal.


DIRECTOR: Jonathan Glazer
STARRING: Scarlett Johansson, Paul Brannigan & Antonia Campbell-Hughes
GENRE: Sci-fi, Thriller
RUN LENGTH: 108 min