Review: Scarlett Johansson is incredible in the mesmerizing 'Under the Skin'
That transformation begins during the film's most heartbreaking scene as Laura approaches a deformed man (likely suffering from Elephant Man disease or Neurofibromatosis Type 1) to join her in the van. The man was walking late at night to the supermarket and Laura perfectly plays on his insecurities and loneliness to convince him to return to her liar. After he agrees to go, Glazer includes a close up of him pinching his hand so he knows it's a not dream. It's the most sympathy projected upon any of her victims and, at that moment, it's hard to believe we'll ever root for Laura again. Like clockwork Laura does her job and we see this poor soul walk to his fate, but does he? Walking down the stairs of her building to return to her search for more male captives, Laura is startled by her image in a mirror. Does she finally see her human flesh? Is she remembering who she was at another time? Is she beginning to relate to her victims? All you need to know is that moments later, she frees the deformed man and thus begins the final chapter of "Under the Skin."
The third act of Glazer's near-masterpiece finds Laura on a journey to try to become human as we discover the goons she once worked with are searching the countryside to track her down. She soon realizes, however, she has more to fear from man outside the protections and predictability of her previous existence.
Glazer may be the visionary behind "Under the Skin" cinematic highs, but it must be noted that this film lives and dies on Johansson's incredible turn. Johansson's dialogue is mostly limited to her pickup lines as she scours the city for new meat. Even though a majority of her scenes are silent the 28-year-old actress still finds a way to bring a distinct dramatic arc to her character. Johnasson has shown signs before, but even her harshest critics will have to recognize she's clearly grown into a world class actress. If making "The Avengers" and "Captain America: The First Avenger" means she gets to take unconventional roles like this more often you won't hear any complaints from fans of independent cinema.
"Skin" is likely to divide the opinions of conventional critics, but Glazer has created a conversation piece that will be talked about long after the blockbusters of this year and next have come and gone. How easily mainstream audiences will be able to view the picture remains to be seen. A distributor will pick it up in the U.S., but a release in more than the 29 theaters "Motors" found is highly unlikely.
"Under the Skin" will continue to screen at the 40th Telluride Film Festival and will have it's official world premiere at the 2013 Venice Film Festival next week.