ATTRACTION [Edinburgh International Film Festival]

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Marshall

When a UFO is shot down over Russia, the crash landing obliterates several Moscow tower blocks and kills hundreds of people. Teenage girl Yulia, whose father is the military commander in charge of overseeing the crash site, encounters an alien scouring the rubble, and upon revealing himself to be an injured and rather hunky human-looking young man named Hakon, she does all she can to help him survive in the newly paranoid streets of the Russian capital.


Most alien encounter movies involve an extraterrestrial species who have come to conquer, enslave or exterminate, but this scenario is an interstellar equivalent of someone with a broken down car who just wants to fix it and be on their way, but suspicious locals won’t let him. It begins as an interesting idea, and one that allows focus to be placed on the human reaction to the situation. When people die those left behind need someone to blame, and the accusatory fingers are pointed at the alien presence as vitriolic resentment swells within the city now placed under martial law. Refreshingly, Yulia’s father isn’t the kind of gung-ho officer who presses military intervention on the extraplanetory visitors, but is instead reluctant to begin an assault and attempts to resolve the situation peacefully, perhaps conscious of the lives already lost unnecessarily and trying to pre-emptively save more.


However, whatever potential the story had is soon squandered. Once Hakon makes himself known and Yulia becomes increasingly attracted to him, the story quickly degenerates into the familiar YA tropes you’ve seen a dozen times before. Yulia ends up with a choice between two standard male archetypes, her current boyfriend who’s dangerous and exciting, or a potential new one who’s tender and emotional. No prizes for guessing which way her affections end up swinging. There’s no justification given for why Hakon looks so human, and aside from his being immortal there seems to be no difference in biology, to the extent that he’s even able to receive a transfusion of human blood. It seems like the only reason for it is so Yulia can find him irresistibly attractive without getting into some faintly disturbing interspecies romance territory.


To give the film credit where it’s due, the CGI work is exquisite, the realisation of the alien technology opting for the smooth curves of advanced sci-fi equipment rather than the rough grey heavy industry image set. A brief sequence showing the beauty of Hakon’s home planet, all verdant serenity and gravity-defying upward spirals of water, is like the cover of a pulp fantasy novel from the 1970s.


Towards the film’s end it attempts to drag itself from the teenage romance and tries to make a point about the sanctity of life and the aggressive and self-destructive nature of the human race, but really doesn’t provide any greater insight than far more talented sci-fi authors have been writing about for the best part of a century. Like its protagonists, Attraction is very pretty to look at, but gives us little to care about beyond surface detail.




Expected Rating: 7/10


Actual Rating:

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