I had promised a week of foreign-language science-fiction films, but though today’s film is Spanish, it’s in the English language. This creates a strange tonal dissonance, which doesn’t exactly distract from the film — being a bit weird and distanced is sort of what it’s all about — but does create a peculiar frisson.
This is a deeply odd film in many ways, one of those strange English-language hybrid foreign films (it’s a Spanish production) which is toying with big ideas in sometimes inspired ways, and sometimes rather more clunky ones (I’m reminded of the Kirsten Dunst sci-fi Upside Down which has a similar tonal oddness while also being a film largely buried by distributors, or in terms of plot the French weirdness of Innocence). The plot itself is fairly silly, and holds together only in the vaguest of ways, while the big reveals are well telegraphed up-front so most people will probably see what’s coming. However, clearly all the budget went into set and costume design, and it all looks fantastic, putting a queer sci-fi twist on fairytale aesthetics. It lands on a sort of dreamy romantic dystopian vision and sustains this atmosphere throughout, even when the plot itself is getting a little trying. A director to watch.
Director Alice Waddington; Writers Brian DeLeeuw, Nacho Vigalondo and Waddington; Cinematographer Josu Inchaustegui; Starring Emma Roberts, Awkwafina, Danielle Macdonald, Jeremy Irvine, Eiza González, Milla Jovovich; Length 95 minutes.
Seen on a flight from Singapore to London, Friday 13 March 2020.