Title: How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Studio: Little Punk and See-Saw Films
Screenplay: Philippa Goslett and John Cameron Mitchell
based on a short story by Neil Gaiman
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Actors: Elle Fanning, Alex Sharp, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, Matt Lucas
Release Date: (USA) May 25, 2018
Studio Summary: “An alien touring the galaxy breaks away from her group and meets two young inhabitants of the most dangerous place in the universe: the London suburb of Croydon.”
Simply put, How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a bitter sweet punk rock science fiction love story. With that, there is enough in the description to attract and/or put off any prospective viewer. Although there is plenty of each aspect, it still feels as if there is not enough of any of them. There is a lot packed into the film and any of it could have been expanded with positive result. That is me damning the movie with faint praise. The fact is that I very much enjoyed the film, but admittedly punk mash ups with sci-fi elements get me every time, so I was somewhat predisposed to like this. Add in Neil Gaiman and Nicole Kidman and I’d be less than entirely objective.
Having said that, though, Elle Fanning and Alex Sharp have plenty of chemistry as the literal star crossed lovers and are marvelous together in the sweet portions as well as the punk portions. Then, however, there is a shift to the other aspects of the story that are fun, but feel a little forced. Nicole Kidman always bring her “A” game to whatever project she is working on and this is no exception. She is appropriately badass as the aging punk rock matriarch, but also left me wanting more. Ruth Wilson does a great American accent and Matt Lucas not so much but neither are around long enough to become attached to, though Ruth Wilson’s character does start to take on appealing aspects right before you never see her again.
The Bottom Line:
Uneven, but endearing. How to Talk to Girls at Parties includes lots of great scenes and interesting interactions that are sadly interrupted before getting anywhere significant. There is a sweetness here, and an intriguing premise, but I wish that all the good stuff had more room to breathe. I liked it well enough, but I still walked away wishing there was more. More story, more substance and more character.