It may have taken nine years for Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) to deliver his third feature length film, but the wait for Under The Skin has been more than worth it. Taking this years festival circuit by storm in Venice, Telluride and Toronto, with critics citing a visually dazzling piece of work, packed with enough ideas that you'll need a couple of viewings to dig beneath its many layers. The first teaser arrived last month, but now a longer version is here and it's another great peek at the movie.
Based on the science fiction novel of the same name by Michel Faber, it sees Johansson as a human-like alien sent to Earth to prey on unwary hitchhikers in Scotland. Her job is to drug them and send them back to her race, who mutilate and fatten the victims ready to be feasted upon, though in the film version it may not be as simple as that. It is not, it's safe to say, the feel-good hit of the autumn. Filed under 'Darkly Satirical', it touches on political themes around big business, intensive farming and environmental decay. It also reflects on more personal questions such as sexual identity, humanity, snobbery and mercy.
A remarkable piece of immersive film making, Under The Skin features some unique film making techniques in an attempt to make the onscreen interactions feel more genuine. One scene in particular involved Scarlett driving around Scotland in a van outfitted with hidden cameras, luring actual non-actor males into the vehicle. It was only afterwards that participants were notified of the fact that they were on a movie shoot.
"The key thing for me – the way I understood it would work – was to shoot her in disguise and use the idea of dropping her into the world and shooting her in a way, with the hidden cameras, that wasn't calling attention to itself, so we are really photographing behaviour," Glazer told the Los Angeles Times.
It's part of the director's overall effort to place the viewer in the shoes of this mysterious alien with little narrative context to muddy the experience.
"The core of the story that I was clearly interested in was her journey – and looking at our world as an alien planet through her eyes," Glazer noted.
Currently doing the rounds at the London Film Festival, you can expect a UK release early next year.