Space Invader

Written by Simon Abrams on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.

How is it possible that a movie as violent as Alien Girl could be so boring? A blood-soaked contemporary Russian gangster movie that simultaneously romanticizes and puts down the crimeridden Kiev of the early 1990s, Alien Girl is a colossal waste. It has nothing to do with aliens or immigrants and is a wholly turgid and unconvincing thug romance between a young Ukrainian hood (Evgeni Tkachuk) and his hot hostage-cum-girlshaped baggage.

Alien Girl is neo-noir at its most brusque and empty-headed. The film’s title, taken from the source novel by Vladimir Nesterenko, refers to Ridley Scott’s Alien, but again: There is no extraterrestrial here, just a catty badass (Natalia Romanycheva). A gang of Ukrainian gangsters has kidnapped her and plans on using her to blackmail her brother. Unfortunately, her plans to turn her captors against themselves are not nearly as clever or arresting as either wetbehind-the-ears director Anton Bormatov or Nesterenko (who co-adapted the film’s script) seem to think.

The weirdest and most dispiriting thing about Alien Girl is that it’s supposed to be an impassioned movie about the futility of romance in the midst of tremendous urban upheaval. Syringes are used to spike drinks, crack is smoked and pimps named Robo exist, all in a narrative that kicks off with a drive-by shooting and a quick display of police brutality. Jelena (Tkachuk) fits right in: He’s a blond-haired, cherubic mug on ’roids. He looks like he should be tearing through set pieces with his bare hands.

Yet the bulk of the film revolves around Alien and her limpid machinations, which is why it’s so tedious. The narrative is as complex as a piece of dry white toast. Some kind of real sex appeal might’ve made the question of whether or not Alien is two-timing Jelena somewhat less obvious. But Romanycheva never gets the chance. She pouts half-assedly and makes vaguely threatening gestures. The one sex scene in the film between Alien and Jelena is laughably idiotic: They boff while a train car passes by, which causes a neon light to illuminate their barely visible naked skin, causing him to climax in time with the blare of the conductor’s horn. Love lies bleeding here but only after having been shot, stabbed, drugged and then pointlessly chastised.

>> Alien Girl Directed by Anton Bormatov, at The Village East Theater, Runtime: 100 min.