Mind you his new film seemed to be nothing like Timecrimes as the blurb promised a comedy, a romance, and a look into human nature. This is far from the time bending thriller that I'd seen before and I was intrigued even more. So often writers and directors get pigeon-holed and if they've written a great thriller that's what they'll deliver next, but Vigalondo obviously thought differently and decided to follow a different path.
To add to the excitement the director surprised everyone by actually attending the screening and he gave a funny introduction to the film saying that it was about aliens, peaches and tennis balls. Lots of tennis balls.
This film couldn't be more different from Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes) (Filmstalker review) which I have to admit I was hoping that we were going to see more of or at least something similar to, instead though the writer/director has gone in a very different direction and delivered a film just as interesting and as engaging, although perhaps not so thought provoking.
Extraterrestial is a cleverly written story that touches on a group of films that I really enjoy, films where a huge event is shown from a very different, personal and much smaller viewpoint. I was reminded a little of Signs, but only a small bit because this film is a comedy, mostly.
I loved the way that the characters complicate their own stories and the twists and turns of their plot threads are results of their own choices and actions despite the huge dramatic events that are happening around them.
There were some very funny moments of dialogue and clever set-ups that deliver well, again a sign of the excellent script that builds the misunderstandings between the characters, building them to points where they will have rather large impacts on their lives almost oblivious to the epic events happening in the outside world.
The script doesn't just work so well in the set-ups and the plot threads that twist around but also in the creation of the characters themselves. The neighbour himself is a very amusing character who you want to see more from and is given some great moments delivering them well and giving us a great comedic performance that really does push the leads to the limit and the audience to laugh out loud.
The rest of the cast were just as strong with Julián Villagrán and Michelle Jenner giving natural performances with the underlying story being their falling for each other despite the strange events around them, and above them. Carlos Areces is hilarious though and he steals some of the best lines and the best moments, he's the man behind the tennis balls. The actors play off of each other well, and they are given a great script and strong direction with which to do so. You'd enjoy it.
Extraterrestial (Extraterrestre) is a funny, clever and intelligent film that is rather different from most of the comedies that you're used to seeing. The comedy is intelligent, not filled with the usual slapstick, sexual, bodily function and drug related jokes that pour out of Hollywood but filled with humour that comes out of the characters and the situations, from strong writing, acting and direction, and from the strangest of objects.
However, if you've seen Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes) (Filmstalker review) from Nacho Vigalondo then I feel I need to be clear here, he's taken a very different direction with this film, don't be expecting a thriller after being drawn with the idea of an alien invasion, this is a strongly written comedy that is much more about people than you might think.
It's not a bad thing though, and while I don't think Extraterrestrial is as good as Timecrimes and although I wanted to like and laugh more at the film than I did, this is still a cleverly written and funny film that has very endearing characters and superbly imagined situations.
My wife was with me for the late screening and she's notorious for falling asleep during films, especially foreign language films that are shown later on in the evening. She stayed awake throughout, was taken in by the characters and was even laughing out loud with me and other members of the audience. I can't think of a better endorsement.