Monday, 8 November 2010

Under the Skinny Skin Skin

You've got to be shitting me.

"Scarlett Johansson To Play A Slutty Alien."

So goes the headline on Dark Horizons.

I'll be honest, I did an actual double-take when I came across this news. Not because I was terribly surprised to hear Scarlett Johannson would be playing a slutty alien, I should add. I mean, maybe once - perhaps right between Lost In Translation and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie - I thought she was the sort of actress with standards, that perhaps she'd be one of those actors you can mostly count on to be in good movies. If there was any doubt as regards that left in my mind, her role in this year's Iron Man 2 has thoroughly divorced me of it.

Anyway. No, it's not Scarlett Johannson playing a slutty alien that knocked me for six, it's that she's playing a slutty alien in the just-announced adaptation of Under the Skin. You might remember I reviewed Under the Skin earlier in the year? (Handy links abound. [link]) Well, one way or the other, Michel Faber's novel is decidedly not the kind of book you imagine is apt to be translated into the next Species. But that's how they're selling it, folks. Would you bloody well believe it, that's how those in the know are selling it...

From the Dark Horizons article:

"Johansson plays an alien disguised as an aesthetically perfect woman who scours remote highways using her voracious sexuality to snare human prey. She soon begins to develop feelings of humanity which soon puts her in the firing line with her own people. Think Species meets My Stepmother is an Alien."


Really, no. Don't think that - don't think that at all. Both comparisons rather beggar belief, as a matter of fact. If you must think in terms of a handy hybrid of two familiar things, think... Veniss Underground meets The Hitcher, why don't you? Under the Skin is an indescribably haunting novel: of otherness, certainly - but not necessarily alienness; of sexuality, sure, but not, assuredly, a slutty blonde seductress.

For all that, the talent doesn't sound half bad. Writer/director Johnathan Glazer has given us a couple of fine films - Sexy Beast (not at all what it sounds like) and Birth, that one what had Nicole Kidman and her dead husband reincarnated in a creepy kid - and I like to think he'll do Faber's novel some justice. Perhaps all this is is a couple of people who haven't read the book selling the adaptation of the basis of some sordid, beside-the-point synopsis. Perhaps.

It is nice to dream, isn't it?

Do yourselves a favour: read Under the Skin. Read this book while you still can without thinking of this mess of a movie in the making.

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