Endlessly searching for something that smacks of a trace of originality and almost never finding anything that even remotely applies, it’s always a joy to come across a fresh idea. Such an occasion is an oddball curio called Unidentified Objects. This one is certainly different. That doesn’t mean it’s good. It’s just different.
UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS ★★1/2 (2/4 stars)
It’s about a gay dwarf named Peter and a lugubrious, talkative porn star named Winona who take a road trip to Canada in a big, ugly pink car to reunite her with a group of aliens who have promised to take her to another planet. Neighbors in a rundown apartment house in Los Angeles with nothing in common, she’s tired of being a sex worker and he’s unemployed and broke, so when she pesters him to provide wheels he agrees for $1700. He thinks she’s going to visit her sister, but what she doesn’t tell him (at least not right away) is she’s heading for an abduction site to meet up with some intergalactic freaks who travel on starlight and energy, but need human DNA to reproduce.
With her twangy nasal voice and his diminutive sourpuss cynicism, they make a formidable team. She never stops talking. He never stops reading Chekhov. The youngsters posing as critics today on the internet who have never seen a logical, well-made film seem to love it. Saner, more mature viewers will undoubtedly demand more. Few will deny it’s a freaky rara avis unlike anything that’s been seen before.
Since director Juan Felpe Zuleta and script writer Leland Frankel haven’t bothered to provide a plot, the film depends on what the pair of misfits see and do on the road to fill out the running time. Unfortunately, their encounters are not very interesting. He offers a few long-winded insights about literature, viciously comparing his idol Chekhov to Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams. She gets recognized by two punks in a gas station who are addicted to porn. He dances romantically in the arms of a handsome roughneck in a bar and gets dumped in the middle of a parking lot. Obsessed with astronomy, she names the constellations. Nothing new in any of it, but to my knowledge, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a dwarf play a full-frontal drunk scene totally naked. When the aliens finally show up, they don’t look like anything from E. T. There’s a long, lingering shot of a caterpillar crossing the road.
I’ve never seen or heard of any of the actors, but Matthew Jeffers as Peter and Sarah Hay as Winona are both very good in a bizarre way that can only be described as perversely appealing. Partly sexy surrealism, part eccentric science-fiction fantasy, the same is true for Unidentified Objects.
Observer Reviews are regular assessments of new and noteworthy cinema.