Synopsis: An alien (Scarlett Johansson) preys on lone men.
Stan's thoughts: This film has been getting critics all in a lather. The poster is awash with stars and references to director Jonathan Glazer being 'the new Kubrick'. I don't know about the latter but it is certainly a work of exceptional and unique vision and tone.
This isn't a sci-fi like you'll have seen before. What is alien is the melding of more abstract scenes with Johansson's improvised encounters with real men. Johansson drives around in a van trying to entice men in, usually under the guise of needing directions. She has a quietly erotic charm but there is a distance that is also disarming. There is a sense of danger about her but it is so, so subtle than you wonder if the men she encounters feel it as much as the informed audience does.
There is also a growing sense of danger for her, that she could easily be eliminated by some greater force, particularly as she starts to develop a hint of human emotion. It is all underpinned by a searing score that gives me the willies just watching the trailer
It's mainly shot in Glasgow and Scotland and certainly not an advert for tourism but still succeeds in showing the delicate balance between happiness and loneliness in humanity. The Glasgow on film is a no make-up, warts and all version, as are the people you see in the streets. Just ordinary people. But amid the loners there are plenty out enjoying themselves, a sense of companionship, however crude, amid the ugliness.
When the action moves to the countryside it is always raining or about to and looks freezing. The sweeping landscape is desolate, damp and cold, the tiny hint of warmth comes from the alien's subtle epiphany.
Kudos to Glazer for getting Scarlett Johansson on board and kudos to her for agreeing and giving such a strikingly different performance (and enduring the cold because she must have been freezing the entire time). If this is what she can do in between comic book action movies then she is certainly an actress to watch.
This is far from a mainstream film. It is challenging to watch but I haven't walked out of cinema shaking for a long, long time and it's stayed with me.
- Stan's: 89%
- IMDB: 72%
- Metascore: 78%
- Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
- RT audience rating: 65%