Alien Scarlett goes through one man after another, until one of them, a young man with a facial disfiguration (played by Adam Pearson) touches a seemingly human nerve in her. She never voices the thought, but we can see her wondering: Could she ever live as a human? Could she feel desire and make real love with a man instead of destroying him? This particular pick-up, thinking he's hit the jackpot by finding a woman who's sexually interested in him, pinches himself to make sure it's all real. "Dreaming," he says numbly as he follows in her deadly footsteps; he can barely bring himself to articulate the question mark. In her molten-honey voice, alien Scarlett answers the half-asked question: "Yes. Yes, we are."

Critics' Pick Critics' Pick
Not of this world
2014 Studio Canal
Not of this world


Under the Skin was directed by Jonathan Glazer; written by Jonathan Glazer and Walter Campbell, based on the novel by Michel Faber; and stars Scarlett Johansson, Adam Pearson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay and Dougie McConnell. Rated R.

At this point, which is also, incidentally, the moment Johansson finally strips bare, Under the Skin becomes less sinister and more about some unnameable longing. Alien Scarlett seems annoyed by Earthlings at first—they're a necessary inconvenience—but the longer she wears the skin of a human, the more she yearns to become one. She doesn't have penis envy; she has soul envy. Even in her not-human state, she wants what we all want, and just like us, she has no idea how to name it. Maybe the key is to just keep walking toward it. Dreaming. Yes, we are.

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