How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Starring Alex Sharp, Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Joanna Scanlan, Ruth Wilson,
His first film in seven years, John Cameron Mitchell doesn’t do anything unless it’s shocking and provocative. In his second collaboration with Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Mitchell’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties is likely the most obtuse movie you will spot all year long. A 1977 punk rock coming of age story, set to the tune of cult like cannibalistic aliens; or if you dig a bit deeper intellectually, it’s a film about race, customs and individuality. The screenplay works if you know what to listen for, Mitchell and his screenwriters are clever in their delivery, however most audiences will see this as surface level garbage. The weirder and more obnoxious the film gets, so does its entertainment value.
Three teenage friends living in Croydon, England are on a journey to experience and embrace the punk rock movement of 1977. Enn (Sharp) meets a young girl named Zan (Fanning) at what he thinks is a house party just outside of town. His best friend Vic (Abraham Lewis) learns all too quickly this isn’t a house party, but a cult like group of creatures with unusual mating and feeding habits. Enn doesn’t seem to care how unusual things are, when he and Zan make a connection, she demands to understand his punk lifestyle. As the young men come to terms with what this alien race means, the two groups struggle to compromise and complete their earthy mission before they feed on their young and head home.
The weirder and more obnoxious the film gets, so does its entertainment value.
Some of the funniest moments in the film occur when the human’s and the aliens carry on a conversation, obviously talking about two very different things. This goes on throughout the course of the film, often with sexual references being the ultimate pun. “Do more punk to me,” Zan demands after Enn helps her shorten her skirt. The entire thing is completely absurd, Mitchell wants it that way, as he pushes the audience tolerance level for stupidity right to the edge. It’s just a rare case of the stupidity being underlyingly creative. How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a film that only works if the audience is willing to understand the messages between the ridiculous.
Nicole Kidman hasn’t been this weird or out of control on screen since To Die For. Mitchell describes her character as "a punk rock designer and band manager. She's like a Malcolm McLaren figure". Kidman’s pot smoking, David Bowie looking character is one of the films highlights. Seeing the Oscar winner in a role that allows her complete freedom is refreshing and exhilarating to watch. It’s Fanning and Kidman’s second time on screen together following th, but this collaboration is far more inspired and innovative.
A ludicrous and alienating flick that will provoke hate and admiration.