Hey folks, Jesse here and I just finished watching How to Talk to Girls at Parties. It’s based on a short story by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is famous for his offbeat stories that usually include a sci-fi element. He usually ends up blending genres for something completely weird and interesting. I’ll admit I’ve read a little Neil Gaiman but not this particular story. I liked what I saw in the movie and I’ll be reading the short story when I find the time. It’s a coming of age tale except it’s put on his head and spins around and around.
The Movie Itself (4/5)
How to Talk to Girls at Parties is set in London during the 70s punk scene. It’s got a killer soundtrack if you’re into punk music. There’s also an original song the two leads perform. More on that later. The movie stars Elle Fanning and Alex Sharp. Sharp plays Enn, a teenage “punk” currently rebelling against the norm in English society.
Punk, at the time, was new and meant a change in culture which eventually made its way to America. It was for people promoting anarchy or at least a change to the system. The youth were revolting against the monarchy that allows one family to rule indefinitely. People were sick of it and needed to, if nothing else, find an outlet for their anger and angst. Artists and musicians further spread this message with music. Enn is in the middle of the movement and he is trying to find his place in the world. He’s ready to create his own path.
After stumbling in a house party as an uninvited guest he meets Zan (Elle Fanning). Elle plays the perfect “Manic Pixie Dreamgirl” as Zan. In case you’re not familiar with the term, it’s a type of female character depicted as vivacious and appealingly quirky. Her main purpose within the narrative is to inspire and a greater appreciation for life than the male protagonist. That fits her role just right.
This character can be excellent if you remember actors like Kirsten Dunst and Natalie Portman that pretty much coined the phrase. Fanning is fantastic in this role of Zan. Enn is so caught up in his greater appreciation for life that he doesn’t realize there’s something very odd about Zan and her house full of travel companions. They claim to be tourists but it’s not long before we see their true intentions on earth. I won’t talk about that so I don’t ruin anything but there is a great scene I should mention.
Enn promises to take Zan to a punk show. He makes good on his promise on Zan’s last night of freedom. Once there, she makes an impression on the clubs owner, Queen Boadicea. She acts as the den mother to the punk crowd and is played by Nicole Kidman. Kidman is great in the role and brings her normal charms but it was a little unbelievable. However, she exudes a demureness that she can’t hide with punk makeup and bright white hair. It took me out of the movie a little bit.
Queen Boadicea gives Zan the stage and she slowly becomes gets more comfortable there. She sings one of her culture’s songs and receives a negative reaction from the crowd. Enn jumps on stage and starts singing with her. The two go into a mind meld and know just what to sing together harmoniously. The band kicks in and it finally builds up into fully realized punk song. This slow build up to something powerful is a key scene in the movie and becomes more powerful than the music itself. It’s a great scene and a great part of the soundtrack.
Visual/Picture Quality (4/5)
How to Talk to Girls at Parties has a lot to appreciate here visually. The most color you see in the movie is in the costumes of the bizarre tourists that are part of Zan’s group. They wear bright shiny latex in a variety of colors. The house they stay in is brightly lit in a variety of blues, reds, and yellows. The picture quality really stands out here result in a visual eye feast fitting for a bizarre kid’s show. The Blu-ray format reads perfectly to bring these colors together in crisp, vibrant High Definition.
The cinematography and editing took some creative turns. Some of the edits are out of order. Almost as if deleted scenes were randomly stuck into the movie later. At first, I was confused but I realized the filmmakers were keeping these small scenes for a reason. It also may have been an experiment in the storytelling and meant to trip you out more than the movie has already done. It’s fun overall.
Audio/Sound Quality (5/5)
Like I mentioned, if you’re into punk music, then you’ll enjoy the soundtrack. It’s got bands like The Velvet Underground and The Damned. It also has the original song I mentioned earlier. The score is a little more towards a new wave type of futuristic sound especially in scenes with Zan’s family. It sets a quirky mood to the scenes and there is even some modern dance and acrobatics that go along with it. Overall both the music and scores helped elevate the movie to another level.
Special Features (3/5)
- Audio Commentary with Director John Cameron Mitchell and actors Elle Fanning and Alex Sharp
- Making an Otherworldly Production – the making of the costumes and sets
- Deleted Scenes
- English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Runtime – 103 mins
Nothing too special here. Nothing extra in the case. I didn’t really expect anything. My only real complaint is Nicole Kidman on the cover. Seemed like a gimmick to put the biggest celebrity on there unnecessarily. Here is what it looks like and you’ll see what I mean.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties Overall (4/5)
Overall, I really enjoyed How to Talk to Girls at Parties. I almost gave it a 5/5 but the ending fell a little flat for me. It worked, I guess, but I wish had been a little more powerful. It seemed a bit of a hasty finish but otherwise, the movie was pretty memorable. The strange editing may throw some people off but just go with it and don’t let it be distracting. It’s meant to give you insight into the characters at different points in the story in a non-linear way.
I also enjoyed Fanning. The role she played was really only to push the male lead to a certain amount of personal growth. Filmmakers often misuse this as it doesn’t allow the female character a lot of depth and growth as a human but it’s okay here. She doesn’t have any human depth and is in a sense being otherworldly so it’s mostly like her experiencing the world for the first time. It’s a solid performance and helps drive the story forward. More like Daryl Hannah in Splash. How to Talk to Girls at Parties on Blu-ray is out now and worth taking a chance on!
Alright, my friends, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading my rather wordy review on How to Talk to Girls at Parties. If you’re into this movie, check out one called Liquid Sky. It has similar themes and it’s a great look into the art/music scene in 80s New York. Check out my review of it here.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.