Review: IMITATION GIRL
Every human on Earth, no matter their place in life has pondered the type of grass on the other side and whether it is greener. Stories long told of royalty wanting to live a more fulfilling life or the poor wishing their lives be more fulfilled. The road less traveled by truly plagues us all as a race of beings with wanton desires that seem to never be truly fulfilled. Brilliantly in a sci-fi twist, Natasha Kermani asks what makes us whole? All the roads in our life diverge, but they are still a part of us and it takes those roads to combine to bring us true joy. It takes that centering to complete us as beings. Kermani's IMITATION GIRL is one of the most beautiful portrayals of human understanding I've seen in a long time. From the stars, the eyes gaze on the perfection of simplicity while terrestrially we wallow in our own regret.
The film tells the story of an alien life form come to Earth that manifests itself in the form of a porn star named Julianna, as she is the first image it sees in a magazine. Simultaneously Julianna has grown tired of the banality of her life and yearns for more meaningful aspects of life than what her life has presented. As Julianna descends into depression and spontaneity that hinders any advancements in her life, her Imitation has just started scratching the surface as to what it means to be human. Their mirrored worlds spiraling into different paths until they finally meet.
Julianna as a character is constantly questioning everything around her. While her adult film industry co-stars seem to be very career driven and ready to do whatever it takes, even revering her skills, she just shrugs everything off and jumps at any chance she can get to change her life even without preparing for the changes or the consequences which just keep hurting her. Her Imitation soaks everything in like a sponge loving every aspect of human life thrown at her. She spends a majority of the film in the company of a brother and sister who take her in and teach her to live like a human being and love life. One of the most beautiful scenes in the film, which foreshadows so much later, is this very serene kaleidoscope-like sequence where the Imitation and the sister, Kharar, are cooking and enjoying each other's company. It's such a beautifully sculpted scene and really is the antithesis of Julianna as we have several scenes in her dirtied kitchen where she cleans dishes alone, subsisting on Froot Loops and just generally hating everything. But her imitation just revels in that cooking sequence and the dreamlike quality of the music combined with the kaleidoscope shooting style brings the beauty in the banal.
These constant juxtapositions of the two characters reacting to life give way to the audience feeling a roller coaster of emotions within the film as you feel like you're watching two movies. There's a distinct point when this happens as we are introduced first to the imitation before Julianna herself. We follow a young boy in the opening as he persuades older men to buy him alcohol and a skin magazine. He sits in the desert drinking and enjoying his nudity when suddenly the sky opens up and the substance that makes up the alien creature hits the Earth. The boy runs off, leaving the magazine and the Imitation is born. We are quickly hurled into Julianna's world of sex, drugs and broken dreams. The imitation of Julianna is born out of the ideals of the male fantasy of a woman. Put into scantily clad clothes and set to be a masturbatory fantasy without her even being aware of such feelings or human concepts. What's amazing about that idea though, as the movie progresses in that scene is, even though the imitation is born into that ideal, she escapes it and becomes someone else completely different from who Julianna is. Julianna wants so desperately to escape and in one line she begs the question, "How did I even start in this?" It's such a beautiful tragic line for the Imitation because she started her life in that light, but turned it into something else while Julianna couldn't. The rest of the film leading up to that line is the back and forth emotional ride of glitz and glamor vs. simplistic and serene.
As the Imitation learns more and more about love and life through her saviors, she sees only the beauty in the world while Julianna sees what she deems as filth. However, there is a sequence where after the Imitation has decided to feel the emotion of love toward the Brother, Saghi, which is where her ideas of the human race falter. He tells her a story of the first time he felt love for something and how it was tainted by tragedy. It's one of the best stories you will hear in a film in a long time, but it is her answer that is the haunting truth of our species. "Even the things you love bring you, people, sadness."
The mirror plays an important symbol for our Julianna and her Imitation. It is a constant for them as they see each other not completely understanding what they're seeing, but each sees that other path that can be taken. Both paths seem to falter in their own ways into a culmination of the truest understanding of the human condition. When they finally meet it is a colorful explosive kaleidoscope of life's roads and human understanding that revels in aesthetic and poetry. It's one of the most beautifully tragic and engaging films I've seen in a long time and I loved the ideas presented to me that could really expand as classic sci-fi opening the minds of all different walks of life who watch it. It takes all our roads to lead us to our true selves and Kermani paints it here wonderfully.