Entertainment » Movies

How To Talk To Girls At Parties

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Friday May 25, 2018
'How To Talk To Girls At Parties'
'How To Talk To Girls At Parties'  

With its mix of nostalgia, camp and just plain quirkiness, "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" has the making of a cult classic. No doubt five years from now it will be discovered as one of those oddball comedies that may not to be to everybody's tastes, but hits a chord with some for just being sweet and goofy. Not quite ready for prime time, but perfect for a midnight screening where a viewing can be enhanced with a certain controlled substance.

The film, directed by John Cameron Mitchell, is adapted from a 2006 short story by Neil Gaiman about a trio of punk rockers living in the London suburb of Croydon who come across a mysterious cult partying in an abandoned mansion. The three, led by Enn (Alex Sharp), are perplexed but entranced by their new friends, who wear color-coded, tight spandex outfits that make them look like they're putting on a Devo cosplay party. With their curious, blank stares, monosyllabic dialogue and outré fashions, these party-goers are odd for a good reason: They are aliens who are passing through Earth on something of a reconnaissance mission. They are also bound by bureaucratic rules that keep them from fully interacting with the Earthlings, though a number of them transgress. One, in particular, appears to perform a pretty wild sexual act on a human that may violate a number of their rules, but appears to be a wink to a certain gay fetish out there.

Another such transgression involves Enn and Zan (Elle Fanning), a mysterious, beautiful alien he meets and falls for. Zan is curious about human life and gets a 48-hour pass to experience Enn's world, which leads to her meeting his mum and visiting the punk club that he frequents. The club, a ramshackle warehouse space, is run by Queen Boadicea (Nicole Kidman), a punk impresario bitter at the rising success of her former protégées. When Zan, with some help from Enn, releases her inner-punk in song, could Boadicea have found a new star?

"How to Talk to Girls at Parties" has an intriguing premise and an evocative feel for the cultural anarchy that Punk expressed, but the movie has little drive and danger. The aliens are more silly than sinister (though there is much talk about them eating their young), and the suspense deflates as the story rushes to its conclusion. In short, there's little for anyone to lose. The drama hinges on a decision that Zan must make, but even that misses the poignant mark it aims to hit, making the film's final moments less than as affecting as the filmmakers' hoped.

Mitchell, who conceived "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and starred and directed in the film version, has a thing for conflicting identities, here seen in the intergalactical romance at its center. But the story lacks the emotional resonance needed for it to be touching. Both Sharp (goofily charming) and Fanning (poised and funny) are appealing, and Kidman attempts to be larger than life in a role inspired by Hedwig, but even these engaging performances can center this movie that spins and spins, but never really gets anywhere.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

A shy teenager in 1970s London meets a group of intense, otherworldly girls at a party. Though they seem like they're in a cult, he soon learns that they literally come from another world, setting off the ultimate showdown between punks and aliens.


Runtime :: 102 mins
Release Date :: May 25, 2018
Language :: Silent
Country :: United Kingdom


Zan :: Elle Fanning
Enn :: Alex Sharp
Queen Boadicea :: Nicole Kidman
PT Stella :: Ruth Wilson
Wainswain :: Lara Peake
John :: Ethan Lawrence
Ari Up :: Hebe Beardsall
PT Waldo :: Tom Brooke
PT Bob :: Joey Ansah
Spinning Jenny :: Alice Sanders
DJ Des :: Jumayn Hunter


Director :: John Mitchell
Screenwriter :: Philippa Goslett
Screenwriter :: John Mitchell
Producer :: Iain Canning
Producer :: Howard Gertler
Producer :: John Mitchell
Producer :: Emile Sherman
Executive Producer :: Peter Fornstam
Executive Producer :: Neil Gaiman
Executive Producer :: Rose Garnett
Executive Producer :: Hugo Heppell
Executive Producer :: Josie Ho
Executive Producer :: Winnie Lau
Executive Producer :: Michael Werner
Original Music :: Nico Muhly
Original Music :: Jamie Stewart
Cinematographer :: Frank DeMarco
Film Editor :: Brian Kates
Casting :: Douglas Aibel
Casting :: Henry Bergstein
Casting :: Karen Lindsay-Stewart
Casting :: Emily Jacobs
Production Design :: Helen Scott
Art Director :: Caroline Barclay
Set Decoration :: Hannah Spice
Costume Designer :: Sandy Powell

Robert Nesti can be reached at rnesti@edgemedianetwork.com.


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