I snapped this image late this evening down by the River Corrib in Galway city. The Film Fleadh kicked off tonight, so I passed a long line of people, some dressed up smartly, waiting to get into the Rowing Club. That’s the official after-movie venue for the Fleadh, and it has a lovely section at the back that overlooks the River. It’s a splendid spot to quaff a few drinks and take cinema if the weather is good.
Those were the film buffs who’d been in to see the opening film, Parked (written by Ciaran Creagh and directed by Darragh Byrne). I was on my way to watch a black and white Indie comedy called Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (written and directed by Madeleine Olnek). I’m delighted I made the effort, despite the 10pm showing, as I laughed a lot during this fun film.
The premise is ridiculous in the style of the 1950s B movie which it homages: the residents of the planet Zots believe that ‘big feelings’ are causing their planet’s ozone to deplete, so anyone who is brim full of tempestous thoughts is exiled to planet Earth where it is believed their hearts will be broken. Afterwards they will be allowed to return, despondent, to Zots.
The film follows the adventures of Zylar (Jackie Monahan), Barr (Cynthia Kaplan) and Zoinx (Susan Ziegler) as they negotiate the New York city landscape, trying to find and lose love with New York city women. A paralell story watches the two Men in Black who shadow the aliens, but who never quite do anything other than have passive aggressive conversations about their love lives and pastries.
What centres the film is the genuinely touching relationship between Jane (Lisa Haas) – a clerk in a stationary store – and Zoinx. Jane is kind, generous person who overlooks Zoinx’s obvious strangeness. Haas is simply marvelous in this role, and instead of being a caricature of sweetness she is heartfelt and genuine. Ziegler manages to convey the depth of her attachment to Jane even though as the alien she moves stiffly and speaks in a monotone.
Barr and Zylar are the outright comic duo of the film, one a co-dependent and the other an outrageous flirt, who bond over an emotional reaction to the sadness of a cheesecake rotating endlessly in a cake display in a diner.
While a lot of the humour is based on the ludricious nature of the situation, it is earthed by the fact you quickly come to care about the characters. While there are analogous comparisons made between aliens on earth and lesbians on earth it doesn’t mire itself in unsubtle moralising. The tone is always light, which suits the old school aliens-among-us theme that it’s emulating. Plus, it clearly believes that love is possible for everyone.
Olnek spoke at the end of the film about her inspirations and how the project was written and shot. Of course there is a Facebook page and a web site, if you want to find out more about the film. While Olnek admits she is not a major sf fan she has respect for the genre, and this is evident in the material itself. It’s brilliant to see a woman writing, producing and scripting a smart, upbeat film about lesbian love and relationships that’s never twee or exploitative.
This film has the markings of a cult classic. Seek it out.
I bought the t-shirt.