Under the Skin (2014; Jonathan Glazer)
By Daniel Barnes
The idea of an alien creature who visits Earth to teach us something about ourselves is a common one in sci-fi cinema, but few if any films have allowed the audience to see the world through the coldly observant eyes of an alien. Under the spell of Jonathan Glazer’s brilliant Under the Skin, however, humanity feels like the alien species.
Scarlett Johansson stars as an emotionless but blankly curious alien driving the cities and back roads of Scotland. We soon realize that she is trolling for victims, and like certain predatory plant species, she lures them into hypnotic submission, while Glazer does the same thing to the audience with his camera.
Glazer invites us to indulge in the pleasure of ogling Johansson, but at our peril, making Under the Skin both a stunning example of the male gaze and a devious inversion of it.