Some random thoughts/questions/observations:
-The woman at the beginning, from whom Scarlett Johansson (I'll just use SJ from here on out) removes the clothing - I took her to be a counterpart of SJ, an alien (?) who had been doing what SJ does in the film until something happened to her and SJ came/was created (?) and took over for her. She wasn't just some random human woman, right? Motorcycle man seemed to know exactly where she was - and she was so beautiful, a superficial resemblance to SJ, with her black hair - I assumed she was part of what they were doing. I like thinking that perhaps she had a similar story arc, one similar to the one SJ takes, beginning as a ruthless kidnapper of men, but then at some point failing, perhaps getting a conscience? The tear, I suppose, is what makes me think that. Anyway, I like thinking of the film as a cycle - the story we see is just part of the continuing, repeating cycle, new women replacing the old ones, whether because they're worn out or gain a conscience or want to be human, I'm not sure.
-The drownings and baby on the beach scene was probably one of the most unbearable things I've seen in a film. It was at that point, as I was feeling physically sick, desperately wanting to "get the baby," that I was thinking first, "it's only a movie it's only a movie it's only a movie" and second, "If this is an indicator of the film, I'm not sure I'll be able to handle this." I can take quite a bit but that . . . Still, as I've been considering, why was that scene there? Did the film need it? Did I need to suffer in that way? I think, yes, it was necessary. To say that the scene shows SJ's (and motorcycle man's) total disconnect from the human and from family and that it shows their ruthlessness is part of the answer to why the scene is there, but just that doesn't quite satisfy. I don't want to read metaphor into the film too much (though the film, obviously, demands something like that), but the baby did indicate to me just how divorced sexual desire in the film - as demonstrated to us by the desire for SJ - is from any kind of intimacy that might lead to a desire for procreation, for family. The male desire in the film has nothing to do with that kind of intimacy - and the fact that later, we see how sexual act cannot be completed b/c SJ doesn't have, apparently (?), the right parts, underscores just how divorced desire is from life, from procreation. And it's ironic and tragic in that later scene, too, because there is some authentic desire for intimacy between SJ and the man who helps her - he's tender with her, and perhaps sees her as more than her beautiful exterior, rather than being merely filled with desire for her body. His reaction, too, after the attempted sex, is compassionate - he's not angry, but wonders if she's ok. Both of these scenes - the abandoned baby and the thwarted sex act - perhaps together say something about just how divorced desire is from real intimacy, the kind of intimacy that would, perhaps lead to a desire for children, for even when there is a desire for and movement towards intimacy, there's only (involuntary) rebuff. The body can't even act as SJ wants it to.
-The scene after SJ takes the disfigured (what's his condition called? I heard, but now I can't remember) man back to the house and he's gone under the pool, oily substance thing, SJ is looking in this round thing on that stairs that I took to be simply a mirror - she was, at any rate, reflected in it. But it confused me as to why looking in the mirror would cause her to go back and free the man (I think that's what happened) and let him go. She'd presumably looked into other mirrors - mirrors are everywhere in the film - we saw her reflection in the rear view mirror all the time and she saw mirrors in the mall at the beginning. (Loved those shots of women getting their skin done up and gazing in mirrors.) It was further confusing to me that the motorcycle man looked into the "mirror" later and then went out in pursuit of the man. I didn't get what the deal was with the "mirror." I realized, after listening to the Slate Spoiler Special podcast, that it wasn't a mirror but a window, a peephole of sorts into the pool-thing. So, of course, SJ was looking at the man she had just lured there - and she for some reason decided to let him go (she's gaining some compassion at that point? a desire to be more human? a desire for intimacy?) and then the motorcycle man guy looked in and saw that the man was gone and went after him. Ok, makes sense - plot point cleared up. BUT I find my misreading - taking the window for a mirror - rather interesting because what happened was I was looking only at the reflective surface of the window into the pool, only at the glossy surface, not into or through that surface. So my misreading becomes a parallel to the whole conceit of the film: that men are looking at SJ's surface, never thinking to look beneath.
-I really loved the ending - the final scenes. The forest was so beautiful, and so horrible and isolated at the same time - something from a fairy tale (though it looked a great deal like the forests around here in the Pacific NW - the same damp, the same kinds of trees and foliage). But paired with the aesthetics, too, I love the commentary on sexual violence. My husband said, after the film, "why did he go to all the trouble to pour gas on her and burn her? going all the way back to his truck? Seems odd." But upon consideration, the burning of her is a parallel to the violence of attempted rape, of course, and the burning highlights even more thoroughly what that former violence is. The violent, hating, destructive fire of his desire for her, a desire that literally ripped her skin is really no different from the violent, hating, destructive literal fire that was a kind of response to his thwarted desire and his fear (maybe) and hatred of what was beneath the surface. He hated her more after he saw beneath her skin, but it was only an extension of his previous hatred, desire-filled though it was.
-I loved the final shot, the snow falling, falling, so softly, making our last sensation one of cold isolation, as cold and as isolated as the burned body.