Imitation Girl is one of those little movies that if you don’t pay enough attention you might just miss it. This would be an absolute shame as it’s quite a unique and endearing sci fi film that works and connects on a very human level.
The film, written and directed by Natsha Kermani, stars Lauren Ashley Carter in two roles. One, as Julianna, a young woman living in New York making adult films in her day job and selling drugs as a side gig. You find out she is the daughter of a world famous musician, and at one time was on track to follow in her father’s footsteps. Of course, sometimes life doesn’t work out quite like we hoped and you see her at a time where she’s really questioning who she is and what she’s doing with her life. Carter also plays the “Imitation Girl”, an alien life form that lands out in the desert and takes the form of the first human it sees, which was Julianna on the cover of an adult magazine. In the role of the imitation, Carter is a revelation. She wanders into a hotel run by an Iranian family and his brought in and given a place stay. She learns from Saghi and his sister Khahar about being a human and love in her relatively short time with them.
One day, the imitation sees Julianna on TV and knows she must find the girl to which she shares a face.
Lauren Ashley Carter is amazing in this film. Playing both this burnt out, tired 20-something that finds she’s not happy in her life anymore(or maybe never had been), and the newly reborn version of herself seeing the world with fresh eyes and wonderment, she does it flawlessly and brilliantly. Everyone in the film was fantastic( especially liked the cameo from comedian and producer on the film Lewis Black), painting Kermani’s written world with vibrant and realistic colors.
One of the subtler details is the soundtrack by Natasha Kermani and Kevin Hufnagel. It’s dominated by introspective pieces, going from quiet acoustic interludes(“Still and Vast”, “Shopkeeper’s Story”) to ambient dissonance(“Prologue”, “Desert Vision”), all the while retaining a cohesive sonic world throughout. The combination of Kermani’s more acoustic, organic pieces and Hufnagel’s Eno-esque electronic dissonance bring together the earnestness and mystery of the story beautifully.
There are also a couple electro pop tracks included here. Carl Sagan’s “Ring” has an early 90s feel to it, as does Maryleigh Roohan’s “My Friends”. Both put me in mind of 10,000 Maniacs and Belly, while Tyger’s “Enough” has a more contemporary vibe, mixing shimmering guitars with synth and electro production.
These tracks all go a long way in putting Imitation Girl in a real world where we can relate to the story; whether Julianna is at a club dancing or contemplating what went wrong in her life.
Imitation Girl works on all levels. From the writing to direction to the acting and cinematography. It especially works on the soundtrack level. A mixture of organic instrumentation to ambient textures to electro pop songs, they all work their magic on the film to make it that much more engaging of an experience.
7.9 out of 10
Imitation Girl Soundtrack is available now via Burning Witches Records. Buy it here.