The intense, beautiful visual style of Jonathan Glazer is not prolific. The British director has helmed a number of quintessentially cinematic/innovative videos, including Blur's "The Universal" and Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity." His only two previous feature films, Sexy Beast and Birth, showcase an innate ability for nuance--making Under the Skin no exception. The collaboration of Glazer and Nick Wechsler, known for supporting the slightly sinister as evidenced with previous films he's produced, including Requiem For A Dream and Magic Mike, makes for an incredible visual experience. Based on Scottish author Michel Faber's 2000 novel (also called Under the Skin), the film opens our eyes to the strangeness of being, as seen from an alien femme fatale perspective.
Being that no one in the movie has a name, Scarlett Johansson shall be referred to as simply "The Alien." The process by which aliens inhabit female bodies seems to rather simple: As soon as one human body expires, another one is inhabited. A mysterious alien watcher (think: Giles in Buffy but creepier and less communicative) follows each incarnation of The Alien on his motorcycle (he's very biker chic), ensuring that she carries out her responsibility of luring men into a black abyss. And, speaking of black abyss, that's exactly what the symbolism for sex seems to be in this film. For those who are misguided enough to be tempted by the promise of intercourse are ultimately sucked into a black hole--and obviously not the kind they were hoping for.
Once the male body is beneath the surface of the ground he's been sucked into, his body is housed for a period and the skin is harvested. Side note: Aliens really seem to dig our skin, in spite of all its potential blemishes and deformities. In fact, in one instance The Alien picks up someone in her car with neurofibromatosis, which means his face appears mangled. This, of course, does not stop The Alien on her quest to destroy every man in her driving path through Scotland. The only stipulation with regard to how she chooses her men is that they must be "all alone"--no family, no friends, no ties to mainstream society. Apparently, this is a decidedly easy type of man to find in Scotland.
Taking pity on the man with the deformed visage, The Alien begins to get more in touch with her human side. This angers her motorcycle watcher to no end as he rampages through the countryside in search of the man she let go. Meanwhile, The Alien starts living with a kindly Scotsman who seems to dig her seeming tortured victim persona, when really, she just doesn't have shit to say. Pretty soon, she's even starting to notice her body, checking her naked figure out in the mirror and thinking, "Not bad, not bad." After a failed attempt at sex (we're not really sure if it's because she can't get aroused, but that seems a likely reason) and her flashing a lightbulb on her vag, The Alien flees the scene. The Alien delves further into the human psyche when she's escorted into a nightclub that still thinks it's chic to play "Sandstorm" by Darude. As if that's not overwhelming enough, she has to be harassed by a gross guy she ends up putting on ice.
Exhausted from trying to act human--aren't we all? (this includes eating a bite of cake that she finds foul and then spits out)--The Alien retires to the woods, where she encounters a disgusting Scotsman who serves as something of a park ranger. The Alien tolerates his weird conversation and then finds an isolated cabin to take a nap in. She is awakened by the park ranger type trying to rape her. This is when it gets somewhat annoying. Because what kind of lame alien can't kick the shit out of a human with his or her alien power? In any case, The Alien runs away from her tormentor, only to be doused in gas and lit on fire by him after he rips some of her skin off and realizes she's not human. What does this mean, you ask? That no one can accept it when you're too different.