Under the Skin

Director: Jonathan Glazer (2013)
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay
Find it: IMDB

Say what you will about the Avengers, but they're a savvy bunch. Deftly mixing up their big blockbuster movies with relatively smaller indie pictures, the Marvel superheroes of today can be found avoiding typecasting in the likes of The Judge, Foxcatcher, Snowpiercer and - in the case of this Black Widow 'centric piece - Under the Skin.

In this classy version of Species, a mysterious alien takes the form of a beautiful human female, steals a van and sets about seducing and murdering men in the back of it. In an interesting twist, the alien's point of invasion is Glasgow, Scotland, and the form it takes is Scarlett Johansson, from off've The Avengers. If that's not distracting enough, Johansson speaks in a disturbingly good English accent, talking about things like Asda, Tesco, The Post Office and things you'd never normally hear Black Widow chatter about.

It's the sort of film which is so arty it doesn't need a story; instead, we follow The Female as she seeks out and seduces men along the streets of Glasgow, tempting them into the back of her van where, well, something happens, and they end up literally losing their skin. Keeping it from getting repetitive is the gonzo style of filmmaking (most of the characters being played by non-actors - fair play to them, gamely getting their kit off opposite Scarlett fucking Johansson on camera) and the haunting, hypnotic score which accompanies it all. It's pretentious, but manages it in a way that it works, like a Lars von Trier movie or Alan Moore comic.

It'll probably never get under one's skin, but this movie gave me a curious itch that I doubt no other will ever scratch in quite the same way. Although, you know, that could have just been hearing Black Widow talk about Tesco and Asda like they're places she'd ever actually visit. In that respect, it's no wonder Scarlett Johansson gives the perfect performance.

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