It’s a strange creature, and not necessarily in the way the filmmakers wanted it to be
Forcing a theme into a film can rapidly become its major downfall. How To Talk To Girls At Parties suffers that very fate as it looks to possess the human side of punk whilst commanding the rebellious nature of a new society. It certainly misses its target, fairly widely in fact, and never manages to become the sum of it parts.
Set in 1970’s London, How To Talk To Girls At Parties tracks teenager Enn (Alex Sharp) and his punk inspired friends as they set out to find themselves some women for the night. However, when they arrive at what they believed to be an after party, the trio are thrust into joining the strange rituals of an alien race. Enn is drawn to one member of the beings, Zan (Elle Fanning), who is also fascinated by him, determined to escape, Zan is desperate to experience the real world for herself.
Throughout, HTTTGAP, the contradiction of a punk rocker falling in love, an alien rebelling from their cult-like life and the ‘human’ side of both being found is just too much. The themes are layered on like white-washing a rented property. Layer after layer of imagery that doesn’t change or mutate, just adds to the already intense atmosphere. The idea is a good one but the execution needed to be far cleaner than it is.
The story is adapted from a short piece by science fiction author Neil Gaiman, and the elongation of its content certainly makes HTTTGAP feel needlessly drawn out. It is a cliched and somewhat predictable plot, not complicated enough for what the film it trying to do. This leaves it often struggling for real content, relying on its themes to do the heavy lifting.
At times it gives the impression of a student-made production, but then Nicole Kidman and Matt Lucas rear their heads, suggesting otherwise. It’s a strange creature, and not necessarily in the way the filmmakers wanted it to be. Elle Fanning and Alex Sharp are fine as the leads, and perhaps with a little more direction, HTTTGAP might have become the thematic science fiction piece it wanted to be.
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