(director/writer: Jonathan Glazer; screenwriter: Walter Campbell/based on the novel by Michel Faber; cinematographer: Daniel Landin; editor: Paul Watts; music: Mica Levi; cast: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay, Dougie McConnell, Kevin McAlinden; Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: R; producers: James Wilson/Nick Wechsler; A24; 2013)

“Predatory brainy fantasy film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An unsettling experimental sci-fi film about a nameless extraterrestrial femme fatale (Scarlett Johansson) taking the form of a sexy earth woman and touring Scotland after found in a ditch by a leather-clad motorcyclist, in director Jonathan Glazer’s (“Sexy Beast”/”Birth”) predatory brainy fantasy film with a one-note plot. It’s adapted from Michel Faber’s 2000 novel, and is devilishly co-written by Walter Campbell and Glazer.

The alien is artfully personified by an ‘out of this world’ Johansson performance, who dons a black wig and fake fur coat as she rides a van and comes on as a heartless seducer of all kinds of lonely Scottish men on the road in both Glasgow and in the moors.

If you’re looking for answers as to what the mysterious alien’s venture was about aside from your own observations, don’t expect answers from the story itself to be forthcoming. It plays out as a visually pleasing visionary film that targets the art-house crowd as its audience. It’s a polarizing film that should divide viewer reactions because of its weirdness, its minimal dialogue, plotless developments and avant-garde film-making style. But for those who fancy something different and surreal, this sobering grim atmospheric mood piece, though certainly far from a perfect film, delivers enough of a charge erotically and intellectually for the viewer to get off on it in a positive way.

Under the Skin