Under the Skin (2013)

under the skin poster 2013 movie scarlett johansson
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great, beautiful looking mysteroius picture

Undefined story and characters will challenge some viewers

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Under the Skin

Studio:  Film4

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Drama

Release Date(s):  August 29, 2013 (Telluride Film Festival)/March 14, 2014 (UK)/April 4, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


Who wants to go for a ride?

A woman (Scarlett Johansson) travels the streets of Glasgow in a van picking up men…and consumes them in a sexual hunger leaving only their skin.  As the woman travels, she begins to understand the body she’s inhabiting and the world to which she has been born.

Directed by Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin adapts the 2000 novel by Michel Faber.  The film made the festival tour before being released in theaters in 2014 and received wide acclaim and made many “best of” lists, but also was a divisive film for some critics.


All aliens use public transportation.

Under the Skin defines an “art picture”.  The movie has little dialogue, no named characters, little plot development, and a shooting style which is more guerilla than standard movies.  To me, this makes the movie interesting…to many, this could lead to hate.

I like going into a picture without much knowledge of the story (if possible) and I had very little information on Under the Skin when I saw it.  I knew the basic premise and how it was shot, but I didn’t know anything about the story (or lack thereof).  It is the type of movie that leaves you thinking about it long after you watch it (in a good way) and that to me is bonus.


Let’s get it on!

A lot of the credit can go to Scarlett Johansson (the novel did name the character Isserley).  With little dialogue, she really has to emote her emotions and give a performance that makes you understand what is going on inside of her mind.  You get the impression through her story that she is experiencing things through her new skin and body that she never expected…and associating with the people she picks up.  She and the man suffering from neurofibromatosis both are flawed and alone…and she cannot kill him as a result.  Johansson gives a great performance with her looks and actions (and that is coming from a person that has never been sold on her acting ability).


Hmmm…looks like a face I could wear

The film looks great as well.  Most of the pickup scenes were with real men and hidden cameras.  It gives a sense of realism to the picture, and the fact that the men are reacting naturally to an attractive woman asking them questions.  These very mundane scenes are combined with highly stylized scenes during the sex scenes.  They are classy and flashy and throughout the whole movie a strange and eerie soundtrack follows the character.

Under the Skin is honestly what you’d expect if you said “art house film”.  I like it, but I can really see a person being frustrated or just hating it outright if they aren’t up for a more interpretational film.  The story offers no answers and barely gives the questions…what is she?  Why is she on Earth?  What does it all mean?  Don’t go into Under the Skin hoping for those answers or a sci-fi thriller and just enjoy the strange and beautiful ride.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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