A24 / STUDIOCANAL UK (2018)
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Starring: Elle Fanning, Alex Sharp, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, Matt Lucas
Just be confident.
I mean, that’s the key, isn’t it? Find your girl (or guy) at the party and be confident! John Cameron Mitchell had oodles of confidence in terms of what he delivered in How to Talk to Girls at Parties, but I’m not entirely sure I’d trust him with the killer dialogue to seal the deal. However, backed by A24 and boasting the talents of Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman and Ruth Wilson, anything was possible.
It’s the 1970s all over again. The rebellion is seething and punks are everywhere. Enn (Sharp), Vic (AJ Lewis) and John (Ethan Lawrence) just want to party, get sweaty with leather-clad mohawked moshers and meet some girls along the way. When they crash a party hosted by strange and mysterious folk (i.e. aliens), Enn falls for Zan (Fanning), who happens to be the rebellious alien of the gang. He is taken by her looks and she is taken by his way of life. As they fall further into the punk world together, a showdown between punks and aliens is looking as the cosmic beings begin their life-preserving rite of passage.
Sounds like a bizarre hoot, no? Well, How to Talk to Girls at Parties is certainly bizarre. As for being a hoot? Good god no. It’s pretty much the opposite. An unfunny, uncool borefest – a movie containing punks, ‘zany’ aliens and a boatload of strange manages to be a borefest. The most interesting part of the movie is that it is set in Croydon, South London which hasn’t exactly been a hotbed for cinematic adventures. If you can survive Alex Sharp and his ‘ironic punk’ act, then you deserve a medal – excruciating may just be the word. Elle Fanning meanders through and Nicole Kidman - in full Bowie regalia - has a ridiculous accent, despite being the best part of the movie. Even more ridiculous is how much Matt Lucas sticks out from the crowd and not for good reasons either. Ruth Wilson is cool, because, she is simply cool.
A mash-up of punk and colourful aliens sounds awesome but sadly, How to Talk to Girls at Parties isn’t appealing to look at. Dodgy CGI and unconvincing psychedelic effects taint the visuals which probably would have been better served just being…normal? John Cameron Mitchell certainly deserves credit for delivering an off the wall flick (based off an eighteen-page short story) but the strands he throws out are frayed and uninteresting by the end of the movie. Themes are raised but never fully explored as the ‘kookiness’ just takes over and by the end, you’ll either be on board or utterly bemused and disengaged - it fully depends on your tolerance or desire for the offbeat. Me? I like unorthodox but this is still a poor movie.
May 15th 2018