“Unidentified Objects”

This film was screened at Fantastic Fest

The unconventional “Unidentified Objects” is a movie by outsiders about outsiders for outsiders. The film takes a huge leap forward when it comes to representation on screen, yet it never seems forced. Co-writer and director Juan Felipe Zuleta lends plenty of natural oddball qualities to his genre-bending film that blends science fiction, surrealism, and fantasy into a tale of two loners searching for their place in the universe.

Peter (Matthew Jeffers) is an uptight dwarf grappling with loneliness. He’s bitter and unpleasant, choosing to spend time solo rather than in the company of other people. His neighbor Winona (Sarah Hay) is a spontaneous and free-spirited sex worker who knocks on Peter’s door one night. She needs to borrow his car to drive to rural Canada so she can reunite with the aliens that abducted her a decade earlier. Peter runs down a long list of rules for using his vehicle, then decides it’s smarter just to go along for the ride. This marks the beginning of a bizarre road trip that brings together two strangers who find meaningful companionship in each other.

The plot may sound like it’s the bad kind of eccentric, but the likeable characters and earnest dialogue make it feel somehow grounded. The performances are natural, and Hay and Jeffers are engaging as their colorful characters. The leads embody Winona and Peter’s complexities and troubled psyches, and their performances are complemented with the film’s otherworldly soundtrack and vibrant cinematography.

The film raises existential questions about life and existence because Winona and Peter feel like aliens themselves, lost in the chaos of the world in which they live. Both are wrestling with identity issues and wondering if they matter at all. Along their unusual journey, the pair must stare down their own traumas, which leads to a deeper connection with themselves (and each other). It’s something they’ve both been missing as they struggle to find their place in the infinite cosmos.

“Unidentified Objects” ends with an ambiguous finale that is frustrating and open to dozens of interpretations, but the sentiment is a lovely one. This is a story of love, friendship, and understanding, and it’s a nice reminder that nobody deserves to wander alone through the universe.

By: Louisa Moore

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