Wednesday, January 23, 2019

How to Talk to Girls at Parties


A film by John Cameron Mitchell.
Loosely based on the short story of the same name by Neil Gaiman.

Enn (Alex Sharp) is a 70s punk teen in Croydon where he and his buddies crash a party and encounter a kooky, conformist cult (“They must be from California.”) Zan (Elle Fanning) is a repressed humanoid alien in the cult who is on Earth to complete a fatal ritual. Enn, smitten with Zan, appeals to Queen Boadicea (Nicole Kidman), a freaky godmother to the punk community, to help both emotionally and physically liberate her.

Got that? Not to worry.

This is a strange and extremely polarizing movie. John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus) has never been one to pull his punches. What some might deem a crude, disjointed, off-putting movie about social misfits I found to be actually a layered and subtle examination of generational conflicts. There are several parent/child threads going on in it as well as a sharp examination of young love in all its awkward glory, all leading to a most rewarding finish.

The entire cast is first-rate, as is the production (including two excellent musical sequences.) Special mention must be made of Elle Fanning’s performance, her nuanced/over-the-top portrayal of the alien teen makes the movie. Alex Sharp (a Tony Award winner) is no slouch either, together they generate real chemistry in some ludicrous situations.

This has the potential to become a cult classic, perhaps even a stage musical. The narrowness of its “70s-punk-culture-in-suburban-London” appeal might prevent that from ever happening, however.

By Professor Batty


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