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How to Talk to Girls At Parties Movie Review

How to Talk to Girls At Parties Movie Review
Some Conversations Are More Interesting Than Others

Turning a short story into a feature length film is never an easy task, and with "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," it's one that Director John Cameron Mitchell ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch") accomplishes with varying degrees of success.  The film follows Enn (Alex Sharp) and his two friends Vic (Abraham Lewis) and John (Ethan Lawrence), all adolescents involved in the 1970's British punk scene, as they try to find a party and get laid. They eventually stumble into a party of intergalactic travelers, though they don't initially recognize this and instead attribute the partiers' oddities to being American.

Enn connects with Zan (Elle Fanning, "The Neon Demon") at the bash and she leaves with him when the boys flee after learning the truth about their fellow partygoers. We learn that Zan has a limited time on Earth before her kind are set to leave, and she and Enn spend the film learning from each other and falling in love.

While visually striking at all times, the movie does struggle to find the tone of what it really wants to be, oscillating at times between a coming of age story, a young romance, a farcical teen romp along the lines of "American Pie", or an out-and-out sci-fi tale. Enn's friend John decides that's Zan's odd behavior is the result of her being a member of a cult, and while we know this not to be true, it would make her relationship with Enn make much more sense.

Elle Fanning does a fantastic job of playing a character who is experiencing most things on Earth for the first time and is learning moment to moment, but it is incomprehensible that an alien being that has been reborn an untold amount of times across the universe on different worlds, would experience the normal range of human emotions and fall in love with a 16 year old boy over the course of 48 hours.

Instead, it is the stories the surround Enn and Zan's relationship that show the most development and help complete the movie. John plays perhaps the most endearing character in the film; he's willing to lose himself in every moment and acts as the group's authority on every subject this isn't girls. After dancing with different groups at the initial party he exultantly exclaims, "That was the future!" And, being the one who decides that Zan is part of a cult, he gives Enn the advice on how to ‘extract' her.

Similarly, Vic has much more depth than it initially appears. It is his experience at the party with one of the aliens that leads to the boys running out early. He then spends the rest of the movie struggling with the societal norms surrounding masculinity and love, and in the end embraces himself outside of those constrictions. He shows a depth and growth in personality from the beginning of the film when, at the end, he gives John a last piece of advice before a date John is nervous about.

"How to Talk to Girls at Parties" is definitely worth a watch, but don't expect it to tread new ground storywise. Instead, enjoy it for its terrific soundtrack, solid and passionate acting, and beautifully imaginative imagery.


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