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From Other Worlds


From Other Worlds

Director: Barry Strugatz
Runtime: 88 minutes
Cast: Cara Buono, Isaach De Bankolé, David Lansbury

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The word "slight" doesn't even begin to describe how minor the quirky indie comedy From Other Worlds turns out to be, though its sheer lack of pretension may be its greatest asset. Okay, make that its second greatest asset, because the first is Cara Buono, whom some may recognize as the unfortunate new Mrs. Moltisanti on The Sopranos, and who brings enormous charm and ebullience to the role of a bored housewife with extraterrestrial connections. Writer-director Barry Strugatz, whose screenplay credits include She-Devil and Married To The Mob, delights in all things tacky and whimsical, which can be disarming so long as the right people carry it across. Much like Michelle Pfeiffer in Married To The Mob—which, it must be said, has many more fine qualities than this film—Buono begins the film distanced from her family, but blossoms in isolation, where she finally comes into her own. That transformation makes up for a lot of deadly passages.

With a malaise bordering on catatonic, Buono goes through the motions of a privileged New York housewife, but clearly doesn't feel engaged with her earnest husband (David Lansbury) and their two kids. While sleepwalking one evening, Buono has a bizarre encounter with an alien spacecraft that leaves her passed out on the patio with a mark on her flank. Curious and excited, she attends a UFO support group that's mainly filled with wackos, save for Ivory Coast émigré Isaach De Bankolé, whom she discovers has the same mark on his body. Together, they try to investigate why they've been contacted, which leads to a lot of mumbo-jumbo about Egyptian temples and a yet-to-be-unveiled scroll at the Brooklyn Museum Of Art.

Buono's relationship with De Bankolé, which starts as mutual curiosity but inevitably grows into tentative romance, forms the heart of From Other Worlds, but De Bankolé doesn't seem to be in on the joke. Another plotline involving a "government agent" (Robert Peters) trying to seduce a librarian (a surprisingly bad Melissa Leo) into giving him information on the pair falls horribly flat, and turns out to be inessential anyway. Without Buono's infectious turn—and perhaps also the one from that alien who impersonates Marlon Brando—From Other Worlds would simply float off into the ether. Even with her, it's often a sickly sweet confection.