Scarlett Johansson has a tendency to work the indie cinema scene; that is, when she’s not playing S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Case in point, her next screen appearance will be in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s porn addiction/sex dramedy Don Jon, followed by her voice role in filmmaker Spike Jonze’s Her, wherein ScarJo plays a Siri-like device with artificial intelligence that begins to learn about the complexities of human emotions.
As it were, Johansson’s non-human character in Her is, in some regards, similar to her alien protagonist in the upcoming sci-fi drama Under the Skin. The latter film premiered recently at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival, but if you were hoping to discern what the story is about just by watching the newly-released teaser trailer, well… you might want to reconsider that plan.
Here is an (unofficial) description of Under the Skin, as was released back when the news first broke about Johansson having signed up for the project:
Johansson plays an alien on earth, disguised as the perfect aesthetic form of a mesmerizing woman. She scours remote highways and desolate scenery looking to use her greatest weapon to snare human prey — her voracious sexuality. She is deadly efficient, but over time becomes drawn to and changed by the complexity of life on earth. With this new found humanity and weakening alien resolve, she finds herself on a collision course with her own kind. Taking her point of view throughout, the film presents a unique look at our world through alien eyes.
You’d be lucky to get any of that premise – an extraterrestrial drama with shades of Species and Starman among other films – from the teaser, which is more than a little amorphous and surreal in its construction. Nonetheless, if the sole purpose of a teaser is to pique your interest without revealing too much (read: “tease”), then stringing together provocative clips of ScarJo with psychedelic imagery isn’t a bad way to go about managing that task.
Under the Skin was directed by Jonathan Glazer, who also co-wrote the script – adapted from the Michel Faber novel – with relative newcomer Walter Campbell. Early reviews from those who caught the film at Telluride are quite positive, but they also indicate the film is as enigmatic, mysterious and oblique as the teaser suggests, with movies like the David Bowie cult classic The Man Who Fell to Earth and the collective works of Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris (1972)) being mentioned in comparisons.
In other words, it’s safe to assume that Under the Skin won’t be so accessible to the non-arthouse crowd as Spike Jonze’s upcoming ScarJo sci-fi collaboration – even without accounting for the nature of Glazer’s previous directorial efforts, Sexy Beast and Birth. Those who enjoy it when movies feel closer to cinematic puzzles than conventional narratives (see: Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, for a recent example) might want to keep an eye out for this one.
What does Under the Skin look like to you: an intriguing and surreal alien drama – or just another weird arthouse flick?
Under the Skin currently does not have a U.S. theatrical release date.
Source: The Guardian
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