CINEMATIQUE: Under the Skin


Since “Space Age” seems to be the fashion trend of the moment, the sci-fi movie titled “Under the Skin” offers an interesting plot that leaves room for discussion whilst featuring a a very daring and intriguing female role.

Text: Elena Vafeiadi


Based on a book by Michel Faber titled “Under the Skin”, the film is an atypical science fiction script since it essentially tells the story of the sexual encounters between an alien in Glasgow and unsuspecting scotsmen whom she meets along the way.

An extraterrestrial descends to Earth in the form of a charming and sensual woman. Errant on the isolated roads of Scotland – her main goal is to seduce unsuspecting men, to use them as prey offered to the flesh-eating species of her tribe. However, she soon becomes emotionally attached to the earthlings, something that brings her into conflict with the other aliens.

At its core, “Under the Skin” is more of an “experimental” ambient video clip with minimal dialogue featuring reps running in circles and sci-fi interludes that are characteristics reminiscent of Michael Cunningham’s best work. The plot actually touches on much deeper issues that are revealed through the tale of an alien who preys on men for sex (attention: Intense spoilers to follow) gaining different experiences each time she leaves one man behind her to find her next victim.

A truly unprecedented cinematic mind trip, made to perfection by one of the most interesting directors of our time, “Under the Skin” is also a personal triumph for Scarlett Johansson.

After the disappointing acting of Sandra Bullock in “Gravity” (admittedly the 3D movie had great picture but little more than that), Johansson is here to prove that a woman can be the leading protagonist in a science fiction film whilst portraying a melancholic girl and a monster simultaneously. An accidental presence in a crowded city and a symbol of precisely what makes the earth feel “unworldly” – Scarlett interprets with great precision the physically and sexual awakening of a girl.


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