Under the Skin

2014

Under the Skin

Critics Consensus

Its message may prove elusive for some, but with absorbing imagery and a mesmerizing performance from Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin is a haunting viewing experience.

85%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 240

55%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 36,274
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Movie Info

From visionary director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth) comes a stunning career transformation, a masterpiece of existential science fiction that journeys to the heart of what it means to be human, extraterrestrial--or something in between. A voluptuous woman of unknown origin (Scarlett Johansson) combs the highways in search of isolated or forsaken men, luring a succession of lost souls into an otherworldly lair. They are seduced, stripped of their humanity, and never heard from again. Based on the novel by Michel Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White), Under The Skin examines human experience from the perspective of an unforgettable heroine who grows too comfortable in her borrowed skin, until she is abducted into humanity with devastating results.

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Critic Reviews for Under the Skin

All Critics (240) | Top Critics (52) | Fresh (203) | Rotten (37)

  • Minds will be blown to the four winds. And - fair warning - a percentage of American ticket buyers may find themselves exasperated and/or exiting early.

    Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Glacial in pace, skeletal in plot, and generally nasty, Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin is a repetitive nightmare of drear and dread punctuated by moments of queasy-making horror.

    Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
  • It's admirable that Johansson should be so willing to go off the Hollywood grid, but the truth is, "Under the Skin" would have been a lot better if it wasn't so excruciatingly arty.

    Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: D+ | Full Review…
  • Imagine for a moment that Marilyn Monroe - in a black wig and outfitted in tarty Primark - is dropped into the dreich streets of Glasgow, and drives round in a white van picking up eager young men.

    Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • By estranging us from supposed normality, Glazer forces us to identify with otherness: Johansson's mystery woman is a predator, but also potentially a victim.

    Jan 5, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • All this is initially fascinating, and then progressively less so.

    May 9, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Under the Skin

  • Sep 06, 2017
    Polarizing Sci-Fi horror film in the shape of an arthouse movie. Repetitive and slow at first, then opening up to the landscape in the more interesting second half, which also has Johansson's strongest scenes. A lot of times the film is extremely uncomfortable to watch and in the end you wonder why you even bothered, but something tells me a few scenes will stay with you for a while - for good and for bad.
    Jens S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2016
    Sexy Beast's Jonathon Glazer I think shocked many when he strung together a piece of science fiction/arthouse horror as thought-provoking, hopeless and terrifying as Under The Skin. It should be quickly advised that this is an example of art-house at its most artsy, similar in a degree of romanticism to Xavier Dolan's Les Amours Imaginaires or Stanley Kubrick's 2001. The film is quiet in its unsettingly disturbing dips and dives from uncomfortably realistic to bizarrely surrealistic. It's insane and incredibly on-the-ball at the same time. Definitely recommend this film. The only reason why I didn't give it 5 stars is because the rewatch value isn't high and its the kind of film you really have to be in a certain mood to watch, I don't think I'd rush to watch it again. It's more something to experience once.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 04, 2015
    Dark, cold, calculating, and fascinating, Under the Skin is one of 2014's best films! With it's loose plot, and lack of dialogue, it's not for everyone, but the visuals are fantastic and the story is tragic. ~ A-
    Brad S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 12, 2015
    Having been a fan of both Sexy Beast and the underrated Birth, I was happy to hear that Jonathan Glazer's third directorial outing would be an adaptation of a Michael Faber popular science fiction novel of the same name. Also (as a Glaswegian myself) I was even more intrigued to hear that this forthcoming story would be set primarily in Glasgow. I was interested in how the city and it's inhabitants would be depicted and I have to admit that Glazer's decision to do so, has paid dividends. A mysterious, and otherworldly, woman (Scarlett Johansson) arrives in Scotland where she wanders and drives around with the intention of seducing lonely men. The encounters she has, lead her to question her own existence as she strives for some meaning to her life and those around her. Did I hear anyone say Species? Of course, those who are familiar with Roger Donaldson's 1995, B-movie Sci-Fi will undoubtedly make comparisons with the premise of Glazer's third outing but the film itself actually shares more in common with the originality of Nicolas Roeg's 1976 film, The Man Who Fell To Earth. However, these films are mentioned in the same breath for very good reason as Under The Skin feels, somewhat, like the love child of Natasha Henstridge and David Bowie. Scarlett Johansson's unnamed extra-terrestrial has the same man-devouring intentions as Henstridge while director Jonathan Blazer has an uncanny knack for Roeg's ethereal qualities. It could also be pointed out that Bertrand Tavernier's Death Watch in 1980 could have had an influence in utilising the grim and gloomy Glasgow locations for a sombre, science fiction mood piece. It's has a hugely experimental approach to filmmaking but one that's entirely fitting to the films themes of isolation and understanding. Many Glasgow residents were filmed in secret (signing a disclaimer afterwords to be included in the final cut) and it's this secret filming that adds an authenticity to their behaviour and allows us to see ourselves through the eyes of another entity. In this case, it's almost a stroke of genius to have the often indecipherable Glaswegians as the focus of this alien being's intentions. Many don't understand the Glaswegian dialect or idiom and even though I completely understood what they were saying, I can only assume that many viewers wouldn't quite grasp it the same way. Maybe I'm wrong but I often get the impression that the colloquialisms of the city do seem alien to people. I could even sense that Johansson herself didn't know what they were saying at times but this only added the distance between her and the supporting characters. No one does anything of particular note but it's their mundane existence that Johansson's character finds interesting and it adds a rather captivating edge when seen through her eyes. Few, if any, science fiction films have managed to capture this concept or observation so well and it's this that lends the film a true originality that bypasses the B-movie shlock of Species and comfortably finds it's path on Roeg-ish territory. That being said, Under the Skin can, at times, be a tough watch and will certainly not appeal to those that who prefer to be spoonfed their science fiction. There's a leisurely pace and the foreboding music score by Mica Levi and brilliantly bleak cinematography by Daniel Landin only add to the overall sense of dread and depression. The entire point of it all in creating and conveying a distance is also the very approach that could leave many a viewer struggling to find any enjoyment. It's also a role for Johansson that will 'alienate' many of her fans but those who are patient and appreciate art-house cinema will be richly rewarded. Much like the lure Johansson has over her male counterparts, the film itself lures you into a meditative frame of mind and refuses to let go. Some may see it as pretentious but whether or not you grasp itâ??s existential ponderingâ??s, thereâ??s still no denying itâ??s mesmerising mood. Bold filmmaking and quite unlike anything else from 2014. Mark Walker
    Mark W Super Reviewer

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