Feature

Under the Skin

An alien seductress stalks Scotland.

Directed by Jonathan Glazer
(R)

***

Scarlett Johansson’s creepy new sci-fi film “is bound to be a polarizing experience, likely to at times irritate even viewers who admire it,” said Ben Kenigsberg in the A.V. Club. The star plays an alien who cruises Scotland in a white cargo van, picking up men to lure them to their annihilation, and because the movie itself adopts an alien perspective on Earth and its inhabitants, it “sometimes resembles installation art more than a theatrical feature.” For a good hour, “the sheer strangeness and virtuosity of this quiet, sinister work are enough to sustain curiosity,” said Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter. Director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) shot some scenes using nonactors who didn’t know they were being filmed, and Johansson “succeeds admirably” at holding the screen while maintaining all the while a passive, otherworldly demeanor. The film’s last third “feels less daring” than what came before, yet still, “Under the Skin gets under the skin,” said Ryan Gilbey in the New Statesman (U.K.). “It is an experience that has as much to do with hypnosis as with cinema.”

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