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Review: 'Extraterrestrial' firmly grounded in romantic farce

June 22, 2012|By Robert Abele
  • Michelle Jenner and Julian Villagran in a scene from "Extraterrestrial."
Michelle Jenner and Julian Villagran in a scene from "Extraterrestrial." (Focus World )

Hollywood has made our imagined response to an alien attack fairly predictable, but Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo ("Timecrimes") has found an artsy post-invasion space to play in with the deadpan love story "Extraterrestrial."

When relative strangers Julio (Julian Villagran) and Julia (Michelle Jenner) wake up in her Madrid apartment with no memory of their tryst, they're hard-pressed to panic about the city-sized flying saucer hovering in the sky when they've got a romantic comedy scenario to attend to — including a jealous nerd of a neighbor (Carlos Areces) and Julia's macho but oblivious boyfriend (Raul Cimas).

Vigalondo's well-acted experiment in using the tropes of doomsday survival movies as opportunities for farcical diversion is clever, but it takes a while to get used to the writer/director's poker-faced technique and laconic rhythms. Or is that just our preconditioned response to the heroic mayhem we expect from on screen galactic threats?

In any case, once it becomes clear Vigalondo is more interested in the problems of a couple of people than the crazy world around them — yes, there's a whiff of"Casablanca"here — it's easy to settle in for the oddball charms of this tale of love among the ruins.

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"Extraterrestrial." No MPAA rating; in Spanish with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At Laemmle's Noho 7, North Hollywood.

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