27th Aug2017

Frightfest 2017: ‘Imitation Girl’ Review

by Mondo Squallido

Stars: Lauren Ashley Carter, Neimah Djourabchi, Adam David Thompson, Catherine Mary Stewart, Stefanie Woodburn, Sanam Erfani, Kevin O’Rourke, William Wakeland, Taylor Warden, Kevin Metz | Written and Directed by Natasha Kermani

imitation-girl-poster

Julianna (Lauren Ashley Carter) is a young twenty-something adult performer living in New York who – although somewhat successful – is far from happy. Battling drug addiction and being trapped in a relationship that’s almost at breaking point, Julianna finds herself with a potential way out of the life she currently leads– her almost forgotten talent playing piano. As this is going on, a mysterious being (credited simply as Imitation) plummets to Earth and taking on the form of Julianna – courtesy of a centrefold spread left by a horny teenage boy in the desert – finds herself being taken in by a friendly and shy Iranian immigrant by the name of Saghi (Neimah Djourabchi). With the help of his sister (Sanam Erfani) Saghi provides her with a roof over head, food, clothes and safety. Not only does she adapt to human life quickly and learn Farsi – but, she also falls deeply in love with Saghi. Whilst casually flicking through television one day, Imitation stumbles across one of Julianna’s movies (now, that’s what I call daytime TV!) and decides she has to track her down immediately. Is this morbid curiosity regarding the body she chose or is this all part of a bigger plan?

Overall, Imitation Girl is a film that will divide opinion. For me personally, this was more of a visual feast than anything. Gorgeous cinematography with a muted palette that’s as cold and crisp as the winter in which this movie was filmed in. Both Albuquerque and New York look beautiful. It’s amazing just how gorgeous low-budget cinema can look these days. The film itself is not badly written, it’s just a tad unoriginal and suffers from dragging out the plot and then almost rushing in to what is an ambiguous ending (which itself is not a bad thing, I don’t always need my hand to be held.). Without spoiling the plot, there are parts of the film that are just left with no conclusion. What is well written however, is the dialogue. Well written dialogue that is backed by great performances. The star of the show is of course Ashley Carter. She plays both the jaded adult performer and the curious alien in such a believable way. You feel Julianna’s pain, but also marvel at Imitation’s child-like wonder. All those involved give solid performances and you know you are on to something good when you have Lewis Black in your film!

Whilst watching Imitation Girl I was reminded of films like Under the Skin and those cheesy B-movies from the 80′s where an alien takes the form of humans from billboards and magazines. Even the likes of Lady in the Water and Splash! come to mind. It’s inevitable a film like this would bring up similarities in one’s mind. It’s a fairly standard sci-fi outing that does have meaning and would probably benefit from repeat viewings. It’s just a shame it’s a bit drawn out. One other thing that didn’t sit right with me was the score. Although beautiful and genuinely breathtaking at points, it just doesn’t fit most of the time.

My biggest praise for Imitation Girl is how they handle the world of pornography. Of course, Julianna is unhappy with her career and how she got there, but her character is never too cliché and broken like the way similar characters would be written. As well as that, the porno world isn’t cliché either. Instead of sleazy co-stars, directors and producers we have a production team that genuinely cares for each other both on-set and the outside world. There’s no abuse or hints at sexual entrapment. A very refreshing take on a world of film that gets unfairly treated most of the time.

Like I said, Imitation Girl is a film that will split opinions. Ultimately, I found the positives outweigh the negatives and therefore would definitely urge you to give it a try.

*** 3/5

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