The good thing about small budget films is that filmmakers get to create pieces of art that are original. The downside would be that these things are often ignored by the masses and can sometimes be too bizarre to truly be appreciated by some who see it. I’m sure that’s where How to Talk to Girls at Parties will end up since it’s strange and small even though it’s actually kind of entertaining.
Taking place in 1977, a London teenager named Enn (Alex Sharp) spends many of his nights sneaking out and heading to punk parties with his friends. This routine usually sees him gawking at girls while not making a move. That all changes one night when he becomes fascinated by Zan (Elle Fanning), a young woman who belongs to a group of seemingly otherworldly people while at a strange party. As their feelings grow mutual over night, the two embark on an adventure that may permanently alter their futures.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties is the type of movie that can only be described as weird, quirky and downright odd. At the same time, it actually ends up making more sense than the majority of movies that you see with this level of awkwardness. It’s funny because you don’t completely know what’s going on, but it’s easier to follow than you would expect.
Because of this, there’s an authentic sense of mystery that flows throughout. It’s a good way to keep your mind busy as a viewer since you’re trying to figure things out due to not being given a whole lot of information from the outset. They give you enough to get things moving forward, but you’re trying to understand what’s going on just like the protagonist is.
While we’re following Enn, he’s taking Zan around town while also hoping to learn more about her. She herself is attempting to learn about the world that surrounds her. In this role, Fanning portrays an intriguing person who makes you care for her character. You come to feel for her as she not only looks innocent, but also carries characteristics that embody the kind of mentally you might expect from someone like this.
This places us in a position to become genuinely engaged with her and the other people we’re meeting even though none of them are fully formed characters. This could be seen as a negative feature in most films, but it actually works here. One way they accomplish that was to always introduce new things over the course of the picture. It’s done well enough to keep you hooked as you’re always in pursuit of the answers to the questions they hope that you’re asking.
The way that it’s all set up leads me to believe there may not be the kind of movie you watch over and over again. It relies on the characters so much that you may ignore that there isn’t always a very strong story to follow. This fine for the first viewing, but rewatching it, you may find it to be less engaging at least to some degree. I really think it just depends on who you are. I can easily see this being appealing to people who just want to exist in this world.
Although I did leave the theater with a positive view of How to Talk to Girls at Parties, I will admit that it’s a movie that isn’t for everyone. If you want something that’s easier to follow or you require a film that’s more sensible, you may want to look elsewhere. On the other hand, there’s a bit of charm and heart in this film for anyone else who may be interested in a picture that’s fresh, unusual, and compelling.
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Film Length: 102 minutes
Release Date: June 1, 2018
Distributor: A24 Films
- Score - 6.5/106.5/10