By RACHEL MEGHAN
Starring Lauren Ashley Carter, Neimah Djourabchi and Adam David Thompson
Written and directed by Natasha Kermani
Epic Pictures/Dread Central Presents
It’s not often that a film can so delicately balance the innocent and the disillusioned. Contrasting the childlike and the horrors of adulthood is usually black and white, but there is the rare occasion that the two can blend seamlessly. In this case, it’s with the help of aliens.
Natasha Kermani’s IMITATION GIRL is a bizarre one, a film that starts with black sludge running down the screen and ends with what appears to be a sort of psychedelic trip. What happens in between is a mixture of light and dark, both literally in regards to the cinematography and through the relationships and personal struggles of the characters.
Seasoned indie horror vet Lauren Ashley Carter (THE WOMAN, DARLING) plays both adult-film star Julianna Fox and her alien doppelganger, known as Imitation. While Julianna lives a life full of adultery and drugs in New York City, Imitation is simply learning to be human, after materializing in the desert and being taken in by an Iranian couple, Saghi (Neimah Djourabchi) and Khahar (Sanam Erfani). The film seems to be less horror and more of a commentary on innocence, both lost and gained, beautifully portrayed by Carter.
The other star of the movie is Travis Tips’ gorgeous cinematography. Thanks to both, it is easy to distinguish between the lives of the clones: Julianna strung out and unsatisfied with her not-so-glamorous life, and Imitation’s wonder and bemusement and she learns human pain and love. While Julianna is hoping to regain some of that humanity through her rediscovery of her talents as a pianist, Imitation is growing into adulthood through her relationships with Saghi and Khahar, who have taken her in without question or judgement. The constant wide shots of the landscapes of both locations serve this contrast even more, adding to the slow yet satisfying feeling of the movie as a whole.
Carter brings an array of subtleties to both performances, creating two complete and distinct characters. When the two eventually cross paths, they both find exactly what they need from the other, completing their conjoined interpretation of womanhood. Overall, it contributes to IMITATION GIRL’s constant undercurrent of strangeness, served by the aesthetic beauty of the film itself.