Thursday, September 05, 2013

Extraterrestrial (Extraterrestre, 2011) ***

I’m going to give away a spoiler right away here: “Extraterrestrial” is not about aliens.  When Julio (Julian Villagran) wakes up in a strange apartment to a hangover and a beautiful girl, the UFO they discover hovering over the city just serves as a backdrop for all the human craziness that follows.  The girl, who is coincidentally named Julia (Michelle Jenner), turns out to be married.  She also has a creepy, not-so-secret admirer living across the hall.  When her husband, Carlos, returns, and the neighbor, Angel, starts snooping around, the four of them form quite a love-quadrangle.  They engage in humorous hijinks, misunderstandings, and lies in a city that is largely abandoned due to the UFO invasion.
Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, this Spanish film is more enjoyable than it has any right to be.  Vigalondo wrote and directed “Timecrimes (Los Cronocrimenes)”, so with “Extraterrestre” I was all set for some creepy, head-trippy, sci-fi action.  Instead I got a romantic comedy with a UFO in the background.  Fortunately, the film works well as it is.  It’s funny and sexy, and at the end they play a song by the Magnetic Fields.
Actually, I may be selling “Extraterrestre” short as a science-fiction film.  In a way, this is very subversive sci-fi.  Plenty of movies have put guys in the middle of an alien invasion, and they do all the heroic or evil stuff they are going to do while generally refusing to acknowledge that there is a drop-dead gorgeous girl standing next to them.  “Extraterrestre” puts that unavoidable fact front and center.  Julio does what he does and makes his mistakes for the most obvious reason possible: he does it for the girl!

3 stars out of 5

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