2014 | 108 minutes | Rated R
The novel that Under the Skin is based on is science fiction, and the film and the book share a basic DNA. But Michel Faber's novel is a twisty and endlessly surprising journey through genre that toys with its readers' allegiances, while Jonathan Glazer's film feels like a puzzle that doesn't want to be solved. Scarlett Johansson does incredible work: With very few lines and directions that undoubtedly involve the word "less" at every opportunity—less action, less life, less empathy—she creates a character that guides us on a tourist's journey through hell, then just leaves us there to fend for ourselves. The terrors that Glazer shows us pale in comparison to the ones we don't see. A potentially brutal attack is coolly sidestepped and then immediately forgotten; one character's salvation is snipped short offscreen. Under the Skin walks a fine balance between accusing your gaze of causing pain and reminding you that all you can do is watch, helplessly, as a chilly universe unfolds exactly as it had to. We're guilty and innocent, victim and aggressor at the same time.
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