Thursday, May 30, 2024

Objects Unidentified (2023) movie review.

Road trip movies provide an inherently ideal format for a pair of characters who would otherwise have little reason to interact to go on a literal road trip and come out the other side transformed by the experience. Stuck in a car together, often the co-leads in this type of story slowly let their guard down and find in each other a true friend.

No matter how overdone these tropes have become, there are still worthwhile attempts to transform or subvert them. Unfortunately, Zuleta sticks to the default formula, playing the hits without giving them much of a refreshing remix. One by one, all the usual story beats that come with long-distance driving occur: car trouble, a spirited conversation, a meeting with fellow travelers, the obligatory bar scene, and eventually a showdown. complaints are aired chaotically.

The redeeming qualities, which this debut definitely has, come from the barbed banter between the co-stars and some of the sci-fi-inspired dreamscapes interspersed throughout. The director finds another advantage in Sebastian Zuleta’s score, which gives “Unidentified Objects” an atmosphere ripe for discovery and curiosity. The electronic sounds immediately evoke an intergalactic journey, hinting at Winona’s desire to ascend.

Although society ostracizes them—Peter is also gay and Winona ekes out a living through sex work—screenwriter Leland Frankel doesn’t make them merely likable or virtuous given their personal struggles. Instead, Frankel carves them with jagged edges, especially Peter’s, which are only lightly sanded as he warms to it. However, for all the inner turmoil these two people radiate, there is a noticeable lack of fuller character development because we don’t understand their world beyond this quest.

Winona’s seemingly deteriorating mental health and Peter’s deep self-esteem issues surface as they approach their rural destination. She hates that he thinks she’s crazy, while he despises the infantilizing tone and language she instinctively uses with him. For Peter, asserting his choice as an adult in a body that the world refuses to see and respect is the battle that defines his courageous personality.

Jeffers plays Peter as a pompous intellectual with a chip on his shoulder. The actor’s commitment to the role’s acid laughs packs a punch with an off-kilter line. It is all in his undisturbed birth. By contrast, Hay’s charming Winona shows almost unwavering kindness to him, even if they are constantly aware that she is troubled. Occasionally, both performers veer into over-acting territory, indulging in the not-so-palatable artificiality of space odyssey-type passages where we see them wearing metal suits.

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HomeReviewsObjects Unidentified (2023) movie review.

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