By Liz Lopez
“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” seems to have been a long time coming to the theaters after it screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017. Although it may not have been a hit at the festival, I can’t help but think this film is going to find an audience despite not having a perfect narrative. John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001; “Shortbus,” 2006; “Rabbit Hole,”2010) directed this film based on an screenplay he wrote with Philippa Goslett, adapted from a 2006 short story by author and graphic novelist, Neil Gaiman. Set in the London suburb of Croydon in 1977, this punk music, sci-Fi comedy romance tells the story of three young lads, Enn (Alex Sharp, “Better Start Running,” “To the Bone”), an aspiring graphic novelist, Vic (A.J. Lewis) with peroxide-blond hair and John (Ethan Lawrence) who love punk music and looking for girls – all with their own stories and approach to getting what they want, even if they don’t know what it might be.
Alex Sharp’s performance is great as a respectful good guy raised by a single mum and struggling to strike out to gain his independence. His social skills “to get the girl” may not be the most effective as we see at the beginning of the film in a dive-bar managed by Boadicea (Nicole Kidman, at first almost unrecognizable). That is, until the trio of buddies decide to look for the after party and end up knocking on the door of a mysterious looking mansion. Despite finding some very odd people inside, dressed in outlandish and colorful costumes, the boys are ready for a party and completely unaware of what they are walking into.
After exploring the mansion, Enn (Sharp), immediately falls for a blonde beauty, Zan (Elle Fanning), who is more than willing to break away from the restraint of her elders and run off with him. He is head over heels for her takes her home to rest. Unfortunately, it is not long before he learns she belongs to a mysterious alien cult. Who knew young love would bloom during an alien visitation?
Here are some varied reasons to view the film, depending on what you like: the music (by Nico Muhly and Jamie Stewart) throughout the film and especially at the dive bar and the unexpected punk-rock concert; the costume design by Sandy Powell and viewing Nicole Kidman as the suburb’s authority of the underground music scene, dressed and made up to be almost unrecognizable at the onset as well as Ruth Wilson (“Luther” TV Series; “Anna Karenina”) as PT Stella from the alien cult after she relaxes a bit with a few drinks.
I won’t go into the whole story and scenes, but this film with an unexpectedly sweet ending is a good selection to watch as a matinee in the theater if you have already seen other summer major blockbusters. The film definitely earns the R rating for the sexual content and is an hour and 42 minutes long.