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Oct 19, 2012
08:30 AMTalk about Arts
Movie Review: Extraterrestrial
Films opening this weekend in Buffalo:
Alex Cross - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade, Flix Dipsons; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals
Detropia - Amherst Dipson
Extraterrestrial - The Screening Room (10/19 & 10/20)
Paranormal Activity 4 - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade, Flix Dipsons; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals
You wake in a strange place without memory of arriving. Disoriented, and mildly frightened, you have no clue what is going on—you're lost trying to recall the erased minutes of an alcohol-infused evening eerily similar to a crackpot's account of alien abduction. But rather than a greyed creature with probe in hand, the figure moving in the kitchen is an attractive young woman wearing only a t-shirt. A one-night stand that forgot to end, your embarrassed goodbyes are interrupted at the discovery of a spaceship hovering outside the window.
This is our introduction to Julio (Julián Villagrán) and Julia (Michelle Jenner) as they catch each other's names for what may be the first time, the perfect opening from writer/director Nacho Vigalondo. Without a second to fathom the possibilities, however, an apparent invasion means cell reception is gone, the television is without signal, and the duo must decide what to do next. Most would probably run in hopes of a military pick-up or the shelter of land far from the ships' sightlines, but these two simply stay put.
And this is the genius of Extraterrestre [Extraterrestrial]. Whereas most apocalyptic visions of antagonistic invaders from outer space would deal with issues of survival, war, and death, Vigalondo turns the subject on its head by portraying the actions of regular people biding time in hiding. Julio has a beautiful woman all to himself and Julia reciprocates while tiptoeing around a nagging secret about to surface. They both like each other—the alcohol didn't cloud attraction—but what can one do when the end of the world looms?
While Julio and Julia slept off their bender, the world kept going. Her stalker neighbor Ángel (Carlos Areces) stayed behind in hopes of being the last man on Earth for the woman he pines over and her ex-boyfriend Carlos (Raúl Cimas) realizes a need to make sure she is okay despite being safe at a refugee camp. The unlikely group is intertwined within a series of manipulations pitting them against each other by planting the seed of alien infiltration. The possibility each can be an extraterrestrial copy is just real enough to accept extreme measures.
The cast buys into the absurdity of their situation and goes for broke, pushing the sprawling fabrication to a point where paranoid reasoning recalls past events and proves the lies as fact. Cimas is comedic gold—so full of himself that he believes he's the world's salvation. Areces shines as the creeper next door—between peaches and tennis balls, innocuous materials end up integral tools to his over-the-top theatrics. And Miguel Noguera arrives sporadically as a newscaster on his last straw to provide some of the film's biggest laughs.
Vigalondo may put his visual stamp on the work—the scenes falsely verifying lies bear a striking resemblance to Timecrimes' use of expository flashback—but it's Jenner and Villagrán's performances that truly shine. Possessing a fantastic rapport through facial expressions alone, they cringe when telling their convoluted yarns yet still dupe those listening because of the impossible situation outside. Anything can happen when the world ends, and it's a blast to see the common man use such a horrific event to his benefit instead of falling prey to hopelessness.
Extraterrestre [Extraterrestrial] 7/10 | ★ ★ ★