With its narrative function turned way down and conceptual visuality way up, British writer/director Jonathan Glazer's idiosyncratic, highly experimental "Under the Skin" is less a feature film than a cryptic art project.
Starring Scarlett Johansson as a man-eating alien, the movie is verbally uncommunicative to the extreme. Viewers are given virtually no clues as to the history, identity, motives, capabilities of this extraterrestrial and there's hardly a plot to speak of. Instead we just witness the arrival of this unknown being and the demise of her preys, everything unexplained and stupendously, shockingly, scorchingly stylized. It's almost impossible to describe how strange and arresting some of the movie's images look. They play with light, colors, exposure, dimensions to leave behind such an otherworldliness on screen you can't tell if it's pretty or grotesque anymore. Add to that an equally bizarre soundtrack with a main theme that's languid, sensual, dangerous, ritualistic, and you've got a fully immersive experience that's at once completely blank. A mesmerizing, bombastic vacuum.
Judging the merits of something so willfully cooped up inside its own universe is tricky. For my taste, something essential is still missing from a cinematic production when it can't be told apart from a Björk music video. The astonishing achievement of the movie's art department is unquestionable though. Cold, carnal, seductive, disgusting, this film has footage that's traumatically beautiful.