479. Under the Skin

★★★

There’s a lot to be said about rape culture, misogyny, the immigrant experience, and what it means to be human in “Under the Skin.” Too bad that director Jonathan Glazer and team can’t ever find the best way to say it in their distanced, morose, sci-fi thriller.

Released in 2013, this movie earned ample buzz for being the flick where Scarlett Johansson plays an alien that drives around and picks up dudes in real life. Some of those sequences make it into the film, becoming less of a cohesive story and more of a mood or intrusive emotional experience. It’s appropriate and effective, allowing us to become attached to these poor male souls while making Scarlett’s character feel alien, despite her looking outwardly human in every way.

But for such an experimental and avant-garde approach to filmmaking, “Under the Skin’s” never reaps the rewards of its bold vision and process. We don’t feel emotionally invested in Scarlett’s alien or find ourselves pondering the answers to the questions the film is supposedly asking. We commend the movie for taking dramatic leaps with a sly, less-is-more narrative approach, but can’t help but shake our heads when “Under the Skin” muffs the landing.

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