An alien being (Scarlett Johansson) lives on Earth as the beautiful, fascinating young woman Laura. In the Scottish landscape she seduces men to satisfy her hunger. After Laura meets a man with a rare facial condition, she becomes increasingly aware of her human body and doubts arise.
It is an extremely intriguing opening scene, with which director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth) makes his intentions clear. Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson may play the leading role, but anyone expecting an easy-to-digest SF adventure or a straightforwardly told story will be disappointed with Under the Skin.
After taking over the identity of a dead girl - at least that is how the scene with her motorcycle-riding helpers can be understood - Johansson's nameless character travels by van to the seedy suburbs of Glasgow. She approaches random men from her driver's seat. The scenes with the van were shot with hidden cameras: most of the men that Johansson, dressed in a black wig and fur coat, addresses, do not know at that moment that they are starring in a film.
Quasi-coincidentally, they become characters in Glazer's bizarre adaptation of Michel Faber's novel of the same name. In this way, Under the Skin plays a fascinating game with fiction and reality: while you continue to go along with the alien theme, you keep wondering whether those men do not recognize Johansson. Maybe that setting is such an unreal place for a superstar like Johansson that automatically no one sees who she is.
What the alien then does to the men at home is so hallucinatory and nightmarish that all musings about fact and fiction are immediately put to rest. Never before has the rampage of a monstrous creature been depicted so coolly, cleanly and yet enchantingly - in an all-consuming mirror world that could also be the crossing to hell.
There are no new dates planned (yet) for Classics: Under the Skin.