August 17, 2017 Imitation Girl (Movie Review)
What does it mean to be a stranger in a strange land? The intriguing film Imitation Girl broaches on this subject through an experimental blend of Science Fiction and Drama. Making a world premiere back in March of 2017 thanks to the Brooklyn-based Illium Pictures and Cup of Joe Film, Imitation Girl has only just begun its film festival cycle with hopes of more showings very soon.
It opens in the Southwest desert at an abandoned, dilapidated gas station where three teenagers are partaking of a covert rendezvous. As one of the three bikes into the foothills and then sits clutching his illegal booze while perusing a nudie magazine, the heavens appear to open and a comet shoots into the desert landscape. Born from this collision of interstellar proportions is a beautiful, young, doe-eyed girl without a name (Lauren Ashley Carter: The Woman 2011, Darling 2015) who seemingly arises from a black, primordial ooze and the pages of a magazine; she is the perfect imitation of the cover model.
In New York City, porn star and cover model Julianna Fox (nee Julie Harrison) – also played by Carter – goes about her day-to-day schedule without passion or true inspiration. Her boyfriend, a bartender named Max (Adam David Thompson: Mozart in the Jungle series, A Walk Among the Tombstones 2014), sells drugs on the side and has enlisted Julie’s help in his side efforts. During a random lunch with a co-star, Julie meets up with her old piano teacher and we quickly learn that her father is a famous pianist. Clearly, Harrison once dreamt of following in her father’s footsteps.
Back in New Mexico, our imitation girl is found starving while wandering the landscape aimlessly. Her savior, the quiet and reserved Saghi (Neimah Djourabchi: The Dictator 2012, The Cobbler 2014), brings her to his home and quickly begins to fall in love with his new house-mate. He introduces her to his beautiful and kind-hearted sister Khahar (Sanam Erfani: Scheherazade 2015, Orange Is the New Black series) who begins to teach the speechless girl about the ways of her new world. As the relationship between these three blossoms – and their visitor quickly picks up on the intricacies of the Farsi language while learning about the intricacies of love and sadness, life and hope – the audience learns that Saghi and Khahar are immigrants who were forced to flee their childhood home of Tehran, Iran.
When the imitation sees a familiar face on the television one day, the two not-twins will become destined to cross physical paths; culminating in a truly haunting final sequence. Written and directed by Iranian-American Filmmaker Natasha Kermani (The Mentors series, Shattered 2017), Imitation Girl is an intense film that defies categorization but clocks in at 83-minutes. What begins as something Sci-Fi – in the realm of 2008’s Deadgirl meets the ‘80s classic Weird Science – quickly evolves into an artsy Indie film that envelopes drama and experimental minimalism while embracing its Science Fiction roots. The end result is an experience that is intriguing, haunting, beautifully-orchestrated and with some truly astounding scenery along the journey.
Carter – as both Fox/Harrison and the titular Imitation Girl – is superb. As Harrison, she shows the perfect pinch of indecision so as to be perfectly sincere in the role of a young woman with big dreams who has settled for the easiest path placed before her; struggling between her love of art and her complacent career in the adult world. Conversely, as the alien imitation, Carter embodies a beautiful balance of naivety and culture shock; a creature placed in the New Mexico desert who is equal parts stunned and shocked, intrigued and curious. With the weight of the film resting on her petite shoulders, Carter embraces both of her roles with finesse.
Carter and the cast are bolstered by an intriguing screenplay, one that holds no definite answers and instead begs the viewer to script their own conclusions. Beautiful cinematography – of both the sprawling New Mexico desert and the harsh New York City terrain – blends with some truly superb soundtrack work to create what is an overall splendid presentation of a truly unique film. Exploring both the yin and yang of the country around us, as well as an individual soul, Imitation Girl is a marvelous new film that defies boundaries and deliciously embraces a world of inherent contrasts. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Imitation Girl 4 of 5 stars.