By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Screened on opening night of the Future Gate Sci-fi Film Festival, How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a hilarious and delightfully playful interpretation of Neil Gaiman’s punk inspired short story and destined for cult classic greatness.
Set in the late ’70s, London punk Enn (Alex Sharp) and co stumble across a very unusual party filled with extraterrestrial beings. After meeting the pubescent and frustrated Zan (Elle Fanning), Enn agrees to help her leave the alien group and discover human life, and of course punk.
Director John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) is the perfect fit for this Neil Gaiman short story adaptation which was also an Official Selection at Cannes and the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival last year. The director’s trademark use of punk inspired music, vibrant use of colour and playful cinematography really elevates the source material and left an epic and very cheeky grin on my face.
Fanning is, as always, a pleasure to watch as Zan – clueless, frisky and eccentric to boot. A very convincing alien tourist. Zan’s growing curiosity for sex and freedom is nothing new for the now seasoned actress considering recent roles that have sculpted her into the poster girl for teenage sexuality. She’s really at her prime career wise right now.
However, the whole alien crew in general are well-directed and choreographed, especially the formidable and psycho-sexual ‘Stella’ played by Ruth Wilson – think of performance art in an underground gallery in East Berlin. This stuff is pretty wild and you’re either going to love it or hate it.
How to Talk to Girls though knows exactly what it is and never flinches when turning up the heat. The comedy factor is outrageous – absolutely hilarious. Enn and his misfit crew are a riot, not to mention Nicole Kidman’s punk queen ‘Boadicea’ who tears up the screen with her boundless energy and savage wit. 2017 was definitely her year.
Despite its literally out of this world shenanigans, the film never reaches pure drivel. It’s also a love story, but in no way cheesy. Fanning and Sharp have great chemistry and you find yourself passionately rooting for them. There’s a strong anti-consumer and ‘fuck the system’ attitude as well which is nothing new but still of course welcoming in these ridiculous times. It’s a shame that this film hasn’t had a wider release.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a fantastic film but requires and open mind and a love of the absurd and ridiculous. It was the perfect opener for this weekend’s Future Gate Sci-fi Film Festival, whose opening night was quite honestly some of the most geek-out fun I’ve ever had. I even bought merchandise. Great festival. Go next year.
Photo: The Playlist G