*PSA this contains spoilers!!!!*
The movie that I chose to watch was Under the Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer. I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I started it, but as it progressed I was surprised to see it remind me of a lot of what we have been discussing in this class, especially when it comes to how women are expected to perform in society. The plot revolves around an alien who is disguised as a human woman, and goes around Glasgow seducing men before she kills them by submerging them in a dark room of water and harvesting their organs for some unknown purpose.
Through the eyes of this alien who is essentially a blank slate when it comes to anything “human,” we can see her learn about traditional gender roles. So much of the movie is spent with us watching her observe human life and figure out a way that she fits into it. She studies ads and women in a mall to decide how best to dress. She observes them eating, studies her body, and eventually finds empathy for her victims which causes her to stray from her original mission. She comes to understand and identify with being a woman and why the use of her body in order to lure her victims to their demise as a sort of femme fatale. That in and of itself is an interesting juxtaposition, as men are usually seen as the perpetrators of crimes, so it is nice to see a woman put in such a powerful and dominant position.
The man who causes her to develop empathy is a disfigured man who she picks up on his way to the grocery store. She discovers that he has gone through his life without any friends or lovers, and this is the first death that she is bothered by. Immediately after, she strays from her mission and runs away from the male alien who is presumably in charge of her. It seems that this is a revelation that the aliens of this universe come to time and time again, as the opening scene is Laura replacing the previous alien, who obviously failed the mission by growing too close to humanity and dies with tears in her eyes. Laura eventually meets the same fate, as a man she meets in the woods attempts to rape her and then sets her on fire after discovering she is an alien. This movie reminded me of a coming of age film in the fact that Laura loses her innocent view of humanity and learns that despite the beauty of this world, it is also harsh, particularly for women.