Nacho Vigalondo’s Extraterrestrial is a sex comedy that is masquerading as a sci-fi film, about aliens invading earth. Julio (Julián Villagrán) wakes up in a strange apartment, complete with a bra on the bedroom floor, the shower running in the background and a massive hangover. The owner of the apartment is Julia (Michelle Jenner), is in the kitchen making coffee, wearing nothing but a t-shirt, who also sports a hangover and doesn’t remember what happened last night either. They wake up to an empty Madrid, due to a giant UFO floating a few miles away, that managed to frighten the citizens to leave. Along with a quirky neighbor and Julia’s ex boyfriend, the four of them try to find a way to cope with their lives being interrupted by aliens.
While Extraterrestrial is clearly nothing like Vigalondo’s first film, the excellent Time Crimes, it certainly is a fine example of how to make a low budget film properly, with an interesting setting and an awesome cast. The plot of the film is extremely thin, yet Vigalondo clearly shows his directorial skills by having the interactions and dialog of each of the characters be interesting enough to be able to invigorate the screen for 90 minutes. Even Miguel Noguera, who plays a news anchor in 3 small scenes creates so much character out of so little screen time, that its impossible to not fall in love with the writing on Extraterrestrial. Vigalondo uses the background of aliens to show how humans can react in certain situations and the dynamics of a love triangle that has spiraled out of control. At the core of the film, its about the love that one person can have for another, in the complete face of adversity, as well as a love so strong, that it literally cannot exist in this world.
Entertainment One’s disc of Extraterrestrial comes with a wonderful making of featurette, that shows how the film was made on a shoe string budget. Vigalondo is pretty candid in it, as well as some of the actors, that show how making the film seemed like a complete labor of love. The other inclusion on the special features is a few short films that Vigalondo has made, that also straddle different genres at once and showcase how gifted he is as a storyteller. One titled Marisa, is about a woman that suffers from multiple personality disorder, while her husband is trying to get into contact with the true Marisa that he fell in love with years prior. Done in a sort of photo montage of various women playing the different personalities, an homage to Chris Marker’s wonderful La Jetée, shows how much Vigalondo loves genre filmmaking and how he can craft such an elegant story, even if its only done in a few minutes.
Extraterrestrial isn’t for everyone and I can certainly see people being bored with it. What makes the film great is that its a rom/com, an atypical love story and set in a genre that rarely dabbles with either of these notions. I enjoyed it a lot and it certainly makes me look forward to what the Spanish filmmaker has in store for us in the future. Recommended!